Monday, November 07, 2005

Thirty and Broke

A great, detailed article in Business Week
gets to the heart of the Gen Debt problem. In fact, it reads like a precis of my book. The only difference is, I also write about the 75% who don't get a college degree. This article, like many, focuses on the 25% who do.

In myriad ways, the economics of being 30 have changed for the worse. A college degree is now the minimum required to find a place in the working world that affords some job satisfaction and material comfort. But it doesn't offer protection against turmoil in the labor market, as it once did. Nor does it guarantee such things as health insurance or a retirement plan. And real earnings for college graduates without an advanced degree have fallen four years in a row, for the first time since the 1970s.

Paige belongs to the first generation that came of age with the Internet, grew up marketed to at every turn, is too young to remember the Vietnam War, Watergate, or the Beatles: There are all kinds of ways to describe today's 30-year-olds. But what may really come to distinguish them is that they could be the most indebted generation in modern history.

Two new economic realities are at work. Many had to borrow serious money to attend colleges that are ever more costly. And as soon as they entered school, they were offered credit cards; by 30 many have accumulated thousands of dollars of that very expensive debt, too. Imprudent choices sometimes have compounded their troubles. The consequences can be profound: Many of those 30-year-olds feeling unduly burdened by their financial obligations have had to make compromises on some of life's vital decisions.

No comments: