A Preview of Coming Attractions: The Two-Income Trap

Due to my haphazard style of reading several books at once, it often takes me longer to finish a book than it would if I’d just pick a book and stick through it already. My reading is much more targeted when I read fiction, and especially so if I am enjoying the characters and plot. With nonfiction, however, it may  take as long as two months to finish a book as I pivot from one volume to the next depending on the topic I’m in the mood to read about.

I’m currently moving -albeit glacially- through Elizabeth Warren’s The Two-Income Trap, which I’ve been reading for a few weeks. I should finish by May’s end, as I’m more than halfway through it at this point. However, in the interest of keeping my personal commitment to write more and post installments here with greater regularity, I decided to preview the forthcoming review with a rather profound insight from Mrs. Warren, found on page 67 of her book:

So how did families get sucked into the Two-Income Trap? The answer is unexpectedly simple: No one saw it coming.

The politics that surrounded women’s collective decision to integrate into the workforce are a study in misdirection. On the left, the women’s movement was battling for equal pay and equal opportunity, and any suggestion that the family might be better off with Mother at home was discounted as reactionary chauvinism. On the right, conservative commentators accused working mothers of everything from child abandonment to defying the laws of nature. The atmosphere was far too charged for any rational assessment of the financial consequences of sending both spouses into the workforce.

The massive miscalculation ensued because both sides of the political spectrum discounted the financial value of the stay-at-home mother. [emphasis mine]

Despite my feelings about Elizabeth Warren the politician, this is very insightful commentary from the Elizabeth Warren of 16 years ago, the professor.

I look forward to reviewing this work in a fuller context sometimes next week.


15 thoughts on “A Preview of Coming Attractions: The Two-Income Trap

  1. bikebubba says:

    It reminds me of sitting down with Mrs. Bubba when #1 was on the way, and after taxes, tithe, extra car expenses, extra eating out, extra clothing expenses, formula, daycare, and extra medical expenses, we figured out she’d be working for about a buck an hour.

    Wasn’t worth it. I wonder what Faux-cohontas would say about this work now–it would probably get her in trouble with the feminists!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elspeth says:

    Wasn’t worth it. I wonder what Faux-cohontas would say about this work now–it would probably get her in trouble with the feminists!

    She’d walk it back by miles. It’s not a popular position. It wasn’t a popular stance when she wrote her book, but it’s even less so now. And the book doesn’t recommend a mass return of married mothers to the home. In fact, she says the opposite, but in a “that horse has left the barn” kind of way.

    What she does do though, which I don’t think she’d have the courage to say today, is that MC families as a whole are a lot worse off now that women have entered the workforce en masse. And she does a masterful job of articulating why, even if I don’t necessarily agree with all of her proposed solutions.


  3. Cassie says:

    Yeah, my new hubby and I are expecting a baby (due in November), and once he or she is born I will be quitting my job. It’s a good job with a good paycheck, but we don’t think it would be worth it for me to stay there once the baby arrives for many reasons. We’ve made a point of living on his income alone and making mine be completely extra, that way it will be much easier for me to quit since we aren’t trying to pay for a bigger lifestyle than is necessary. We’re using mine to pay a few minor debts and bolster our savings. We haven’t calculated how much I would be making after accounting for daycare etc, but we don’t really care because we agree that me going back to work and having the baby being raised by daycare workers would be a far bigger price to pay. Not to mention the compounded stress placed on the family if I were to be wasting 40 precious hours per week out in the world, then having to come home and scramble to do everything else with what’s left of the day, rather than using that time to be a good wife and mother. I wish more people understood that concept.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Elspeth says:

    Oh my gosh, Cassie! So good to hear from you! I heard that you’d gotten married. And now a baby!! I cannot even begin to express how thrilled I am for you. YOU, dear lady, are a testament to so many things! All of them good.

    Very wise of you to bank your pay and live on his. It’s really the best way to prepare for all the changes that come with motherhood, because life is full of all kinds of unpredictability.


    Liked by 2 people

  5. Cassie says:

    Thank you Elspeth! 😊 We’re both very excited, and November can’t get here fast enough, lol. As for me being a testament to good things, it’s funny because we have been thinking that regarding me being able to get pregnant so easily (my hubby has read and commented on manospherian blogs so he’s heard the whole “women over 25 can kiss their fertility goodbye” stuff too). We got married at the end of October (I was 33 then, just turned 34), I got pregnant on the honeymoon, then miscarried around Thanksgiving. My doctor was all over it doing blood work to see what could be done to prevent a future miscarriage, and discovered a few things that we took care of with medication, and were told it would be best to wait 2 months for my hormones to get back to normal (they get out of whack after a miscarriage)before trying to get pregnant again to lessen the chance of another miscarriage. We abstained for 2 months then I got pregnant in February. We have a joke about me getting pregnant: “first cycle, every cycle!” lol. So much for kissing your fertility goodbye after 25! 🙃

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Elspeth says:

    so he’s heard the whole “women over 25 can kiss their fertility goodbye” stuff too). We got married at the end of October (I was 33 then, just turned 34), I got pregnant on the honeymoon,

    I don’t want to travel too far off the reservation here, but while a lot of that is true it’s also overblown. Especially for women like you who held to your faith principles along the way and therefore were not subject to all the negative effects that come along with it (“dating” around, hormonal BC, etc.)

    But unicorns are not a part of those conversations. You know that, 😉


  7. smkoseki says:

    Congrats Cassie! Seriously. I saw Satan fall like lightning; he’s just not getting the memo…

    the right, conservatives accused WM of everything from child abandonment to defying the laws of nature…both sides discounted the SAHM financial value

    I’m curious how cons freaking on WM “discount the SAHM financial value”? Just the opposite. But man, the whole “evil-working-moms thing” is so very 1990’s. Today it’s hey you lazy wench pump your damn milk & help pay the mortgage!

    I did skim Warren’s book years ago. I remember play-acting an Amish woman as I read passages to my wife to good effect. Seriously, Warren is not very bright. I liked Nickle & Dimed better; Ehrenreich at least has a brain and knows the real game is the GINI index and WM are part of the plan…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Elspeth says:

    @ smk:

    I do think conservatives underestimate the financial value of SAHMs. Or at the very least, we do a piss poor job of arguing the merits in a larger, culturally relevant way. I don’t need a lot of convincing that being at home is best for my kids or even that the Bible intimates that it is the ideal situation. But of course, I’m a Christian. You have to bring more to the table to convince larger numbers of religiously unaffiliated people. And they CAN be convinced with proper presentation of data.

    I think Warren did a decent job outlining the problem. It’s her solutions which lack anything approaching reality.


  9. bikebubba says:

    Congratulations to the happily expecting couple. To add to previous comments, there can be rough patches (job loss and all that) with a single income family, but for Mrs. Bubba and I, the simple fact that she wasn’t completely exhausted from work plus caring for Thing 1 (just mostly exhausted from caring for Thing 1, now a lovely young nursing student) paid for itself in many ways, among them Things 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Elspeth says:

    You touched on something Bike that I will hopefully touch on next week.

    But yes to all of that. I know some women juggle “it all” fairly well but I couldn’t imagine it.


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.