Thursday, July 14, 2005

Intergenerational Redistribution

Interesting article in the New York Times today looks at generational equity from a new angle. It seems that grandparents, increasingly well-off, are more and more often bankrolling things like college and private school tuition for their grandchildren, whose own parents don't have the resources. The following paragraph could have come straight from my book:

This generation of 20- and 30-somethings are taking longer to finish their education and reach self-sufficiency. "Our culture has changed so that education is priced so high, and lasts so long, that this phenomenon of economic dependency lasts much longer than it used to," said Professor Bengtson, himself a grandfather who goes to Santa Barbara each week to spend a day or two with his year-old granddaughter, Zoe Paloma Lozano.

My own maternal grandparents paid for my Yale education, lock, stock and barrel; the alternative would probably have included loans. Just like the families in the article, I feel that combination of gratitude and sometimes uncomfortable dependence. Families have always done their part to cushion their members from economic hardships--in previous generations, the help usually flowed from children to parents. But the result is rarely emotionally simple.

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