On March 31st, Harvard University political scientist Robert Putnam will speak at the Aspen Institute in a discussion focused on his latest book, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis.” Putnam, a leading academic scholar in the fields of social and political sciences, has authored several books on American society, including his bestseller “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.”
“Our Kids” examines the growing inequality gap in America and its implications for social mobility among young people. Putnam uses his Port Clinton, Ohio, high school class of 1959 as a real world example: nearly three-quarters of the class attained higher levels of education than the previous generation, and the majority of his fellow students went on to surpass the successes of their parents, demonstrating extreme upward mobility.
In comparison, children living in lower-income households today are faced with dwindling opportunities connected to rising rates of unemployment, declining wages, and disappearing blue-collar jobs, leaving little opportunity for upward social or economic advancement. Putnam identifies a widening gap between rich and poor children, where the offspring of well-off families are pulling ever further ahead as underprivileged children fall even more behind.
In profiling both wealthy and poor children from across the country, Putnam lays out the changing landscape of modern American society. As more and more young people are being shut out of the American dream, “Our Kids” asks us: what does the nation’s future look like without them?