The New Better Off

Reinventing the American Dream

cover The New Better Off

A groundbreaking exploration of the ways Americans are reinventing success and redefining “better off,” through lives that reject traditional status symbols in lieu of fulfillment and value relationships over money.

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$24.00 USD
September 2016
304 pages
6" x 9"
First Edition

Print Edition

ISBN: 9781580055796

Ebook Edition

ISBN: 9781580055802

The New Better Off

Reinventing the American Dream

By Courtney E. Martin

$24.00 USD, Cloth, September 2016

Are we living the good life—and what defines ‘good,’ anyway? Americans today are constructing a completely different framework for success than their parents’ generation, using new metrics that TED speaker and On Being columnist Courtney Martin has termed collectively the “New Better Off.”

The New Better Off puts a name to the growing American phenomenon of rejecting the traditional dream of a 9-to-5 job, home ownership, and a nuclear family structure—and illuminates the alternate ways Americans are seeking happiness and fulfillment. And the stats back up Martin’s claims:

  • 35% of Millennials don’t identify with any religion
  • It’s estimated that by 2020, half of all American workers will be freelance
  • Home ownership is at the lowest rates since 1995 for all Americans and lowest on record for those under 35

From how we view work, to customs and community, marriage, money, living arrangements, and spirituality, The New Better Off uses personal stories and social analysis to explore the trends shaping our country today. Martin highlights how people are realizing that there is safety and joy in numbers–whether that’s in a co-working space, a shared house, or a men’s group. They’re also realizing that our most precious resource isn’t money, but time. They’re asking, “How much money is enough money?” The New Better Off presents a fresh take on trendy topics from collaborative consumption, communal living, to the breaking down of gender roles.

For those already beginning to implement the New Better Off lifestyle, those who aspire to, and those who are perplexed by the young and courageous Americans they see breaking free from the traditional rules of the American Dream, The New Better Off is about the creative choices individuals are making in their vocational and personal lives, and it’s also about the movements that are coalescing around the New Better Off idea.

About Courtney E. Martin

Courtney E. Martin, author of The New Better Off. Photo © Ryan Lash PhotographyCourtney E. Martin is an author, entrepreneur, and weekly columnist for On Being. She has authored five books, including Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists, and Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: How the Quest for Perfection is Harming Young Women, and her work appears frequently in national publications such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Martin speaks widely at colleges and conferences, including TED, and has appeared on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, MSNBC, and The O’Reilly Factor. She is the co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network and The Secret Society for Creative Philanthropy and a recipient of the Elie Wiesel Prize in Ethics.

She lives with her family in Temescal Commons, a co-housing community in Oakland.

Read more about her work at

Photo © Ryan Lash Photography.