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September 07, 2005

Facts for the Day

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Some eye-openers from a piece by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi in the current issue of The Boston Review:

* In 1976, a married mother was twice as likely to stay home with her children as to work fulltime. In 2000, she was half as likely.

* A mother with a three-month-old infant today is more likely to be working out of the home than was the mother of a five-year-old child in the 1960s.

* In 1965, 21 percent of working women were back at their jobs within six months of giving birth to their first child. These days, more than 70 percent of working women are.

* Cars are more expensive to buy today than they were in the 1970s, but they last longer. In the late 1970s, the average age of a car on the road was five and a half years. The average age of a car on the road today is more than eight years.

Later in the same issue, Juliet Schor reports that it's estimated that Americans will discard 63 million computers this year.



posted by Michael at September 7, 2005


A harsh economic climate combined with the denigration of motherhood - as woman's fulfillment - for decades. Is that what these factoids tell us?

Posted by: ricpic on September 7, 2005 8:36 PM

That's how I take it too, though you won't find me saying it out loud ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 7, 2005 10:46 PM

Couldn't get to the article for some reason.

I have to question the car age factiod, though. According to my pal at the EPA, this is not true at all. The only thing I can figure is that they are looking only at cars owned and ignoring leases - and possibly counting light commercial vans and trucks as "cars."

Do they give a source?

Posted by: j.c. on September 8, 2005 12:08 AM

And in 1895, a woman who had a baby in the morning was back out plowing the field in the afternoon...

Nah, I just made that up. But I have heard, in casual conversation of course, that the modern practice consciously is to get the new mother back on her feet and out of the hospital as soon as possible, unless there were complications. The old way of days of bedrest just wasn't necessary, evidently. Not too long ago, I was in a grocery store and saw a young mother with an infant so tiny that I could almost believe she had just gotten out of the hospital with it and had stopped off to pick up a few things on her way home...

On cars...I can believe that eight-year average age here in Arizona, where a lot of old iron is on the road. But the rest of country where there's winter and salt on the roads? I'd always heard that up North, cars more than ten years were scarce to non-existent because they had rusted to death by then.


Posted by: Dwight Decker on September 8, 2005 1:03 AM

Cars built in the last couple of decades seem to be more rust-resistant than they used to be.

Posted by: Peter on September 8, 2005 8:28 AM

It's a very strange piece. The first half lines up lots of interesting facts about why middle-Americans are financially strapped. Is it because they're irresponsible spenders? No, say the authors. Middle class people aren't any more irresponsible than they were years ago. It's more attributable to schools. The diff in cost between a house in a district with good schools and one with lousy schools is apparently enormous these days, and the authors claim that this is the main reason middle-class Americans are hurtin'. Then in the second part of the piece the authors go on to blame the state of affairs on GWBush.

I'm happy blaming a lot of things on GW, but 30-year trends? I don't think so.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 8, 2005 10:24 AM

Mothers rush to work because of Americans' love of money. They do not NEED to in many cases. It is just hard to afford the BMW payment and the plasma TV without having a second income.

Posted by: Doug on October 2, 2005 8:08 AM

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