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Why 'Our Kids' Aren’t Still Winning Today

This article is more than 8 years old.

When the doors of opportunity close on America’s children. How and why it’s happened, with Robert Putnam and his new book, “Our Kids.”

An image from the cover of Robert D. Putnam's new book, "Our Kids: The American Dream In Crisis." (Simon & Schuster)
An image from the cover of Robert D. Putnam's new book, "Our Kids: The American Dream In Crisis." (Simon & Schuster)

Robert Putnam is perhaps the most famed social scientist in the United States.  A kid from working class Ohio.  Now a big deal at Harvard.  He went out to see how it is now for kids hoping to rise up in working class America.  And he was shocked.  Deeply unsettled at how difficult it has become.  At how rocketing American inequality has shoved the American dream stunningly out of reach for millions and millions of kids.  “Our kids,” he says.  And put America’s very future at risk.  This hour On Point:  Robert Putnam’s new cry to save our kids and our country.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Robert Putnam, professor of public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Author of the new book "Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis." Also author of "Bowling Alone" and "American Grace." (@RobertDPutnam)

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: The terrible loneliness of growing up poor in Robert Putnam’s America — "For the past three years, Putnam has been nursing an outlandish ambition. He wants inequality of opportunity for kids to be the central issue in the 2016 presidential election. Not how big government should be or what the 'fair share' is for the wealthy, but what’s happening to children boxed out of the American dream."

New Yorker: Richer and Poorer -- "Income inequality is greater in the United States than in any other democracy in the developed world. Between 1975 and 1985, when the Gini index for U.S. households rose from .397 to .419, as calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau, the Gini indices of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Sweden, and Finland ranged roughly between .200 and .300, according to national data analyzed by Andrea Brandolini and Timothy Smeeding. But historical cross-country comparisons are difficult to make; the data are patchy, and different countries measure differently."

New York Times: ‘Our Kids,’ by Robert D. Putnam — "The idea that growing inequality will hurt upward mobility might seem self-evident. But the academic verdict on intergenerational trends is still out, and data on today’s children will lag for decades. Likening the problem to climate change, Putnam says we can’t wait for perfect clarity but must act now to save the American dream."

Read An Excerpt From "Our Kids" By Robert Putnam

This program aired on March 11, 2015.


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