The Overspent American explores why so many of us feel materially dissatisfied, why we work staggeringly long hours and yet walk around with ever-present mental "wish lists" of things to buy or get, and why Americans save less than virtually anyone in the world. Unlike many experts, Harvard economist Juliet B. Schor does not blame consumers' lack of self-discipline. Nor does she blame advertisers. Instead she analyzes the crisis of the American consumer in a culture where spending has become the ultimate social art.
Schor's message and her inviting command of the language will strike a chord among many debt-laden middle-class readers. Her notion of reference-group competition, rooted in impressive polling and rigorous analysis, is an original contribution to understanding why people are so readily seduced by the temptation to buy. New York Times Book Review