Two members of the much-maligned Generation X answer four years of media condescension with a cogent, though flawed,...


LATE BLOOMERS: Coming of Age in Today's America: The Right Place at the Wrong Time

Two members of the much-maligned Generation X answer four years of media condescension with a cogent, though flawed, economic analysis. Since 1990, the mainstream media have been scolding the current crop of adult Americans under 30 for their lack of ambition, their immaturity, and their ""clingy"" tendency to move in with their parents after graduation. Lipsky (Three Thousand Dollars, 1989) and Abrams, a New York City attorney, argue that the problems of their generation are neither psychological nor cultural. What distinguishes this generation from those who came of age in past decades, they insist, is a lack of white-collar economic opportunity. The authors explain how federal policies of the 1970s and '80s have affected the prospects of people now in their 20s; their chapter on student loans (examining, for instance, how those loans contributed to rising tuition costs) is particularly convincing. Yet they fail to buttress their arguments with hard numbers: Tracking the job market for graduating college seniors from 1980, they characterize each year as ""okay,"" ""good,"" ""soft,"" or ""awful,"" offering no concrete idea of what percentages those words represent. Where Late Bloomers is even more disappointing, however, is in the authors' reluctance to recognize the limits of a strictly economic analysis. Throughout the book, they equate marriage and children with material success, claiming that their generation delays or eschews such commitments solely for financial reasons, thus ignoring the profound ways in which second-wave feminism and the sexual revolution have changed attitudes toward marriage. Feminism in general gets short shrift, and the sexual revolution is dismissed in less than a page as a misguided experiment. Abrams and Lipsky assume that everyone in their generation wants the same things; given that they're writing about 46 million people, they can't possibly be right.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994


Page Count: 196

Publisher: Times

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994