cover of book

How We Live: An Economic Perspective on Americans from Birth to Death
by Victor R. Fuchs
Harvard University Press, 1983
Cloth: 978-0-674-41225-5 | Paper: 978-0-674-41226-2
Library of Congress Classification HC106.5.F8 1983
Dewey Decimal Classification 302.13


Victor Fuchs, author of Who Shall Live?, cuts through the hand wringing and the “pop” panaceas for America's current social crises in a brilliant analysis of the way we live. The facts are familiar. A doubled rate of divorce. A birth rate cut nearly in half while the percentage of illegitimate births nearly tripled. The young face dismal job prospects, and many of the old are totally dependent on the federal government.

Fuchs's economic approach shows us that the societal upheaval of American life is not created by fiat but rather emerges as millions of men and women make seemingly small choices that are constrained by their circumstances: “Should I go back to school?” “How many children should we have?” “When should I retire?” In a masterly synthesis, he shows the interrelatedness of our choices regarding family, work, health, and education throughout the life cycle. He uses the latest facts of American life to explore three major themes—the fading family, the impact of simple demographics on individual destiny, and the effect of weighing present and future costs and benefits on individual choice.

Fuchs concludes by offering innovative solutions to many contemporary problems: social security, health insurance, child care, youth unemployment, and illegitimate births. Moving beyond the outworn orthodoxies of liberalism and conservatism, he offers a clearer view of our circumstances so that readers from all walks of life can make better private choices, and contribute to more effective public policies.

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