Please join us for a discussion of Professor Garon's book: Beyond Our Means: Why America Spends While the World Saves and find out what we can learn from East Asian and European countries that have fostered enduring cultures of thrift over the past two centuries.
Copies of Beyond Our Means will be available for sale.
SEATING IS LIMITED. To reserve a seat, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org OR 212-246-3942. Program will begin promptly at 6:00 p.m. RESERVATIONS REQUIRED.
About the Author:
Sheldon Garon is the Nissan Professor of History and East Asian Studies at Princeton University. A specialist in modern Japanese history, he also writes transnational history that spotlights the flow of ideas and institutions among the U.S., Japan, and European and Asian countries. His new book, Beyond Our Means: Why America Spends While the World Saves (Princeton University Press) examines what Americans might learn from East Asian and European nations whose public policies have vigorously encouraged citizens to save. Publications include The State and Labor in Modern Japan (1987), Molding Japanese Minds: The State in Everyday Life (1997); and the co-edited volume, The Ambivalent Consumer: Questioning Consumption in East Asia and the West (2006). He frequently appears in the media, commenting on the historical dimensions of contemporary developments.
About the Host:
Barbara Dafoe Whitehead is the Director of the John Templeton Center for Thrift and Generosity at the Institute for American Values. She is the lead researcher and author of For A New Thrift: Confronting the Debt Culture, an Institute for American Values-led report that New York Times columnist David Brooks called "one of the most important think tank reports" of 2008. With David Blankenhorn and Sorcha Brophy Warren she co-edited Franklin's Thrift: The Lost History of an American Virtue (Templeton Press 2009). Whitehead's earlier work includes the path breaking 1993 Atlantic Monthly article, Dan Quayle was Right and The Divorce Culture: Rethinking Our Commitment to Marriage and Family. Whitehead holds a PhD in American history from the University of Chicago.
About the Book:
If the financial crisis has taught us anything, it is that Americans save too little, spend too much, and borrow excessively. What can we learn from East Asian and European countries that have fostered enduring cultures of thrift over the past two centuries? Beyond Our Means tells for the first time how other nations aggressively encouraged their citizens to save by means of special savings institutions and savings campaigns. The U.S. government,
meanwhile, promoted mass consumption and reliance on credit, culminating in the global financial meltdown.
Many economists believe people save according to universally rational calculations,
saving the most in their middle years as they plan for retirement, and saving the least in welfare states. In reality, Europeans save at high rates despite generous welfare programs and aging populations. Americans save little, despite weaker social safety nets and a younger population. Tracing the development of such behaviors across three continents from the nineteenth century to today, this book highlights the role of institutions and moral suasion in shaping habits of saving and spending. It shows how the encouragement of thrift was not a relic of indigenous traditions but a modern movement to confront rising consumption. Around the world, messages to save and spend wisely confronted citizens everywhere--in schools, magazines, and novels. At the same time, in America, businesses and government normalized practices of living beyond one's means.
Transnational history at its most compelling, Beyond Our Means reveals why some nations save so much and others so little.