Thursday, August 23, 2012

Julie Zeilinger: Challenges Facing Millennial Women

The responses to the interview questions may not represent the views of The Echo Boom Bomb's author. These interviews are provided to inform readers of information from experts and provide these experts with a medium where they can answer questions without any content changes. You can also read other interviews at this link. All media in articles, unless otherwise stated, was added by Tim Smith.

Feminism, Millennial Women and the Other Side

A few months ago, I interviewed Suzanne Venker on feminism's effects on Millennial women. Suzanne presented a challenge to some feminist notions, and I wanted to interview someone with a different perspective. After reading a Forbes article by Julie Zeilinger, I contacted her to discuss challenges that Millennial women face and how feminism can address these modern concerns.

Who Is Julie Zeilinger?

Brief Bio (taken from About Julie):

Julie founded the blog fbomb, a site for young feminists, and wrote the book A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word, which was released this year in May. She is currently an undergraduate student at Barnard College and has been named as one of the most influential bloggers under the age of 21 by Women's Day magazine.

You can find her on Twitter.

So, Just Had To Ask ... (Interview)

1. In your article on Forbes, you state that Millennial women face a different form of discrimination than women in the past. What are these new forms of discrimination that Millennial women primarily face?

I believe that generally the type of discrimination Millennial women face tends to be more subtle than in years past. While our foremothers were raised in a culture that generally accepted women’s inferiority to men as fact, the feminist movement has made incredible progress. Today women do have access to education and are largely able to enter the same careers as men (although men still dominate many fields and do still earn more than us on average). I believe that while the feminist movement largely accomplished legal equality, we have yet to achieve cultural equality. Women are still seen as imperfect and are largely objectified in a way that men simply are not. One really pervasive example is street/sexual harassment – so many young women face street harassment on a regular basis. And yet as we are blatantly objectified and disrespected by men, we are told that we have achieved gender equality.

Of course, there’s a huge caveat to this in terms of the fact that there are of course still women who face serious and even life-threatening forms of discrimination in the U.S. as well as abroad. Women’s experiences with discrimination are largely impacted by socioeconomic factors like race, class, sexual orientation (etc) and it’s really impossible to generalize the experience of all women in this day and age because it truly does vary vastly. My thoughts above and those that I wrote about in Forbes are based on my experience and observations as an admittedly privileged young woman.

2. How do you think that these issues can be addressed? And who/what should address these?

SlutWalk protesters in Canada.

I believe that the feminist movement is still working hard in this day and age to address these issues. I think that we’ve made great strides through online-based campaigns – petitions on and other similar sites, Twitter campaigns targeting sexist figures, etc as well as on-the-streets style activism (like SlutWalk). But I really believe that these issues need to be addressed via education. Young women (and young men, for that matter) are barely taught about the feminist movement or about the social issues the feminist movement addresses in school. I think schools across the country need to incorporate these issues into their curriculum. I think it’s just as important for students to be educated about pervasive issues that exist today as it is to be educated about U.S. history and algebra.

3. One criticism that could be made against your argument is that Millennial women are performing better than Millennial men - in terms of career and education, and thus will do better in leadership over the course of their lives. How would you respond to critics that state this?

I think we need to separate statistics like those that show women are the majority of undergrads in this country from the concept of women and leadership – they are not one in the same. I can’t speak from my own experience because, after all, I am still an undergrad but from what I understand once women do enter the workforce they face roadblocks based on their gender that simply don’t exist in the same way for men. For example, women aren’t able to progress in their careers once they start families in the same way men are (hence the recent “having it all” debate). The U.S. is seriously lagging behind in policies that would help women ascend to leadership and have a family – for example, the U.S. is one of three countries that doesn’t have legally enforced paid maternity leave (the other two countries are Papau New Guinea and Swaziland, for the record) and most companies don’t offer family friendly policies like flex hours. Despite our increased presence in the work place, women still are burdened with most unpaid domestic duties. So, while women may be able to enter the workplace we deal with a number of other duties and responsibilities that hold us back from ascending to leadership positions. Basically we have to separate our legal abilities and even our presence in certain careers and educational institutions from leadership. Also, I think that, again, the argument that millennial women are performing “better” than millennial men varies depending on certain socio-economic factors.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Will Student Loans Encumber Housing?

Will Student Loans Delay A Major Housing Recovery? This references my interview with Jed Kolko as well as the housing data i collected from 2010 to 2011. Improvements exist in the housing market, but obstacles also could prevent these improvements.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Jed Kolko: Millennials and the Real Estate Market

The responses to the interview questions may not represent the views of The Echo Boom Bomb's author. These interviews are provided to inform readers of information from experts and provide these experts with a medium where they can answer questions without any content changes. You can also read other interviews at this link. All media in articles, unless otherwise stated, was added by Tim Smith.

About that Housing Market ...

This blog has featured several articles about Millennials and housing (as well as the below video). With Echo Boomers being one of the largest generations in American history, when they are ready to buy homes, they should create a major demand.

When it comes to Millennials and housing, especially for the future with regards to the political climate, what can we expect? Jed Kolko, a Chief Economist at Trulia, offered excellent observations to these questions.

Who Is Jed Kolko?

Brief Bio (found at About Jed Kolko):

Jed Kolko, Chief Economist and Head of Analytics, oversees Trulia's research programs. Applying a background in economic development and research methods, he transforms real estate data, economic trends, and public policy debate into digestible insights for home buyers, sellers and renters. In Jed's prior role as Associate Director and Research Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, he led research projects and advised policymakers and business leaders on economic, housing and technology policies. Before his work at PPIC, Jed directed Forrester Research's consumer-technology market research, advising corporate executives on technology adoption and demand. Jed has also held positions at the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (now FHFA), the World Bank and the Progressive Policy Institute.

Jed earned his A.B. in social studies and his Ph.D. in economics at Harvard University.

You can find him on Twitter.

Millennial financial data obtained from 2010 to 2011 for this blog.

So, Just Had To Ask ... (Interview)

1. The Millennial generation (approximately born from 1980 to 1995) will be America's next great generation as far as housing is concerned, whether they rent or own. Based on your research, what have you observed about Millennial homeowners at this point in time, or is there any indication that they're interested in home-ownership?

The Millennial generation suffered a worse recession than older adults. The unemployment rate of 25-to-34-year-olds rose higher than the unemployment rate overall and only recently fallen back in line. Many Millennials doubled up or stayed at home with parents rather than entering the housing market on their own as renters or buyers. But they won’t live with their parents forever. As the economy recovers, they’ll enter the housing market: nearly two-third still say that homeownership is part of their American Dream. Buying, though, will be a challenge for many of them: for Millennials, the downpayment remains the biggest obstacle to homeownership, and with rents rising rapidly and student debt hanging over their heads, saving for a downpayment is a challenge.

Editor’s Note:

While not Millennials, the New York Times recently featured an article about 4 men with a unique living situation. Some Millennials are doing something similar, like Jessica in 4 strange ways to save money. Similar to Jed's point, these may be temporary strategies to handle the current economic climate. This doesn't mean they won't ever demand homes of their own.

2. According to Case-Shiller (as of April this year), housing prices are on the rise again. Can we expect them to continue to rise, level out, or fall - and what's been helping this increase in prices?

The Trulia Price Monitor – which tracks asking prices – shows that prices have been rising for six months and have been rising in most major housing markets. Job growth, along with declining vacancies and inventories, are pushing prices higher. Job growth means more people are interested and able to buy, and the decline in vacancies and inventories means that buyers are chasing fewer available homes and therefore bidding prices up. A big reason for lower inventories is fewer foreclosed homes on the market. Since foreclosed homes are often at the lower end of the market, first-time buyers will find fewer bargains listed for sale then they would have a year ago. We’ve seen asking prices continue to rise in July, which means sales prices should keep rising at least through the fall.

3. This is for the Millennials out there who question the value of home-ownership - are there any economic arguments in favor of renting as opposed to owning (I know, an unpopular question here in the United States)?

There are good arguments in favor of renting, depending on your situation. Buying a home involves upfront costs, as well as time and effort – which may not be worth it unless you plan to stay in your home at least 5-7 years. Also, renting may make more sense if you are new to a city and aren’t sure which neighborhood is a good fit for you. Finally, in some markets buying is not really cheaper than renting – such as Honolulu and San Francisco, as well as Manhattan – especially if your tax bracket is low and you therefore benefit less from the mortgage interest deduction. Still, with the huge price declines in the past five years, and rising rents, buying is quite affordable relative to renting in most markets, especially in the Midwest and the South.

4. A side question here - but one that will gain increasing amount of attention in the future: is the mortgage tax deduction a good idea from an economic standpoint? Why or why not?

The mortgage interest deduction is politically popular, but one of the few areas of possible bipartisan agreement on tax reform might be to reduce tax deductions – of which the mortgage interest deduction is a major one. On one hand, the housing market is still fragile, and rising prices have real benefits for the economy, so reducing the incentive to buy a home right now could hurt the economic and housing recovery. On the other hand, because of the way the mortgage interest deduction works, it gives a much bigger tax break to richer taxpayers, particularly in geographic areas with higher home prices. Only 30% of taxpayers even itemize their deductions in the first place, so the benefits of the mortgage interest deduction goes to some homeowners and not others. The mortgage interest deduction is – and will remain -- in the crosshairs of two big policy debates: how much should government spend to encourage homeownership, and what’s the fairest and most efficient way to spread those benefits?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Opposing View: Education Isn't A Problem

This blog covers the education bubble and the notion that it will create a major disaster when it pops (exceeding the disaster in the housing market). However, an economist, Paul Ashworth, argues that student loans are not in a crisis:

While Mr. Ashworth notes that students can obviously default on loans and pose a threat to the U.S. government, it is much harder for students to default on their loans than homeowners can on their mortgages.

“It is much harder for borrowers to default on student loans since they can’t even be discharged via bankruptcy,” he said. “In addition, the Federal government has some very wide-ranging powers to recoup losses.”

Like many economists, however, he covers his tracks by stating that he doesn't see it as a problem for now. He has one point to his advantage: if problematic, the government can always take money from taxpayers to bail out students. In other words, the government, like the banks, won't lose money - taxpayers will.