Debate Over Standard of Living Changes

Is Gen-X worse off, or do they just like to complain?

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After I wrote about Nan Mooney's new book, (Not) Keeping Up With Our Parents, in which she argues that today's 20- and 30-something professionals are financially worse off than their parents, I received a lot of feedback from people who vehemently disagreed. One reader, Don Sherwood from Boulder, Colo., dubbed me the "whiner in chief" for even writing about the book. Others said it's up to individuals to simply save more and spend less. (A spirited debate can be seen in the story's online comments.)

My editor, Jim Pethokoukis, also disagrees with Mooney. He explained in an E-mail:

My problems with Nan Mooney are as follows:

1) She perpetuates the myth that the standard of living for the average American is no better than it was a generation ago. This is demonstrably false, as I have written about many times.

2) Her policy agenda seems to strictly focus on wealth redistribution and how the government should spend more taxpayer money on education, healthcare, etc. Nothing about greater opportunity through economic growth and entrepreneurial capitalism.

3) She ignores high Social Security taxes, a bad deal for young people and an unfair deal for families.

According to one survey published in American Attitudes, two thirds of people between the ages of 18 and 44 say they are much or somewhat better off than their parents, while around 13 percent say they are somewhat or much worse off.

How do you feel? Are you better off than your parents, or struggling to keep up?

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