The Financial Diaries
Jonathan Morduch, Rachel Schneider
By Jonathan Morduch and Rachel Schneider
About the BookThe ideal of the American Dream seems increasingly out of reach, even for many families who are trying to do everything right. To find out why, Jonathan Morduch and Rachel Schneider followed 235 low- and middle-income families as they navigated a year of ups and downs. Through the groundbreaking US Financial Diaries project, we meet real people, from a casino dealer to a street vendor to a tax preparer, who open up their lives and reveal a world of financial uncertainty. For these families, even limited financial success requires imaginative—and often costly—coping strategies: forming saving clubs, borrowing from relatives, strategizing about skipping bills, and devising ways to keep money just out of easy reach. In The Financial Diaries, Morduch and Schneider challenge popular assumptions about how Americans earn, spend, borrow, and save. This book uncovers deeper causes of distress and inequality, starkly illustrating how changes in America have placed too much risk on the wrong shoulders. The authors describe new tools and policies—from fin tech apps that help people manage money to laws that guarantee predictable hours—that will improve stability for those who need it most.
Jonathan Morduch is professor of public policy and economics at the New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He is the coauthor of Portfolios of the Poor (Princeton), among other books. Rachel Schneider is the Omidyar Network Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Aspen Institute and a senior advisor at the Center for Financial Services Innovation.
"Morduch and Schneider's vivid assessment of the causes and consequences of financial instability for the hard-working families in neighborhoods across the nation challenges all of us to do our part to address this widespread problem."—Dan Schulman, President and CEO, PayPal
"The Financial Diaries examines the increasing volatility of earnings for workers in America. . . . Among Morduch and Schneider’s most important findings is that this volatility was not primarily caused by losing or changing jobs. . . . [The authors] tell many stories about people whose finances have been buffeted by a changed economy."—Jeff Madrick, New York Review of Books
"This powerful book should change the way we think about economic opportunity in America. It's an urgent wake-up call and a roadmap for equally urgent reform."—Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation
"[A] groundbreaking study."—Richard Eisenberg, Forbes
"2018 Silver Medal Winner in Finance/Investment/Economics, Independent Publisher Book Awards"
"Winner of the 2018 Silver Medal in Economics, Axiom Business Book Awards"