First aired on On The Coast (7/9/11)
When it comes to the global economy, the heady days of steady growth seem far away. Since the beginning of the recession, markets around the world have continued to move with uncertainty.
And according to Don Peck, that recession, and today's slow growth, will leave a deep mark on individuals and society for decades to come. Peck is the author of a new book called Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It, which explores the impact of a dwindling economy on people's lives.
Long, deep recessions affect individuals, families, communities and even countries. Recessions since the 1980s have been shallow and short and those affected bounced back quickly. But earlier, longer recessions — in the 1970s, 1930s and 1890s — had a lasting impact that defined the generation that came of age in those periods.
"They affect[ed] societies very differently and in much more enduring ways," Peck explained to On the Coast host Stephen Quinn. "When unemployment stretches beyond a year or two years, it really changes people psychologically, it changes their families. And when it's widespread, it changes communities as well."
Peck points to two specific groups being hardest hit by the latest recession: young people and men without college educations. It's taking longer for young people to enter the labour force, and the opportunities are less stable and less lucrative. As a result, "they start out behind and in many cases, they never catch up," Peck said. "Generational character can change quite a lot in periods like this one. You can see this happening already with the Millennials [also known as Generation Y] today."
Men are struggling due to the shift in the North American economy to a post-industrial one. Manual labour jobs are not as plentiful as they once were, and those who historically found work in this field — young, able-bodied men — are discovering they don't have as many options as their parents did. "Men without a college education have increasingly struggled," Peck said. In turn, this has affected families: marriage raters are lower, divorce rates are higher and families are having fewer children. Peck argues that this is a direct result of the surge in men who are not financially secure.
It's a difficult time for many, but this isn't the first recession North America has endured. And if Peck is right, it won't be the last. What matters is how society deals with this change and prepares itself for the future.
Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It
by Don PeckBuy this book at:
"Don Peck's Pinched
, a fascinating and harrowing exploration of our dramatic economic climate, keenly observes how the recession has changed the places we live, the work we do, and even who we are — and details the transformations that are yet to come. Every class and every generation will be affected: newly minted college graduates, blue-collar men, affluent professionals, ex-urban families, elite financiers, inner city youth, middle-class retirees."
Read more at Random House Canada