The Financial Diaries

The traditional narrative of the American Dream — hard work, steady saving, and a little bit of luck will lead to security today and mobility tomorrow — has all but become an American Myth.

Today, insecurity is so pronounced that 92 percent of Americans, when asked to choose between being a little richer or more financially stable, chose stability. But amidst 30 years of wage stagnation and radically decreased mobility, neither has been attainable.

In The Financial Diaries, authors Jonathan Morduch and Rachel Schneider track the financial lives of 235 low- and middle-income households to cast a light on the pervasive economic anxiety felt across the country. The individuals they profile — among them a casino dealer, a street vendor, and a tax preparer — challenge popular assumptions about how Americans earn, spend, borrow, and save and suggest new tools the U.S. needs to correct the broader distress of income and wealth inequality.

On May 23, New America NYC hosted a conversation on the growing financial instability Americans face and the policy interventions needed to better support those who need it most.

OPENING REMARKS:

Xavier de Souza Briggs @xavbriggs
Vice President, Economic Opportunity and Markets, Ford Foundation

PARTICIPANTS

Jonathan Morduch @JMorduch
Professor of Public Policy and Economics and Director, Financial Access Initiative, New York University
Co-author, The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty

Rachel Schneider @RachelSchneider
Senior Vice President, Center for Financial Services Innovation
Co-author, The Financial Diaries: How American Families Cope in a World of Uncertainty

Justin King
Policy Director, Family-Centered Social Policy, New America

Unique Brathwaite
Executive Director, LIFT–New York

Alex Goldmark @alexgoldmark
Supervising Producer, Planet Money, NPR