The Two-Income Trap

Full Name
The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke

The Two-Income Trap is a brilliantly argued book that shows how today's middle-class parents are suffering from an unprecedented and totally unexpected economic meltdown. Today's two-income family earns 75% more money than its single-income counterpart of a generation ago but actually has less discretionary income once their fixed monthly bills are paid. This book provides convincing evidence that the culprit is not "overconsumption," as many critics have charged. Instead, they point to the ferocious bidding war for housing and education that has quietly engulfed America's suburbs. In this exposé, Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi show that modern middle-class families are increasingly trapped by the grinding reality of flat wages and rising costs.

  • The authors show why the usual remedies--child-support enforcement, subsidized daycare, and higher salaries for women--won't solve the problem.

  • Warren and Tyagi propose a set of innovative solutions, from rate caps on credit cards to open-access public schools, to restore security to the middle class.

  • Two Income Trap shows why usual remedies won't solve the problem and points toward the policy changes that would create better opportunities for both parents and children.

  • The book examines the causes of increasing rates of personal bankruptcy and economic insecurity in American households.

Table of Contents

Introduction to the 2016 Edition

  1. Just the Way She Planned

  2. The Over-Consumption Myth

  3. Mom: The All-Purpose Safety Net

  4. The Myth of the Immoral Debtor

  5. Going It Alone in a Two-Income World

  6. The Cement Life Raft

  7. The Financial Fire Drill





"A startling account of the elusiveness of the American Dream."

Time Magazine

"Makes a good case that the epidemic of bankruptcy is not about people being irresponsible."

Paul Krugman

"Brimming with proposed solutions to the nail-biting anxiety that the middle class finds itself in."

Wall Street Journal

"A well-researched road map of where we are, as well as viable escape routes."

Boston Globe

"You should read this book!"

—Dr. Phil