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Commentary: New book examines ‘social air bags’ for rich kids

LA School Report | March 20, 2015

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By Doyle McManus |  Los Angeles Times

What’s the difference between growing up in an affluent family and growing up poor in America?

Yes, upper-middle-class kids have more money. But they also have more attentive parents, stable families, good teachers — and even more friends and acquaintances.

As a result, well-off kids have one more advantage, according to Harvard social scientist Robert D. Putnam: They have air bags in their lives.

Social air bags offer the same kind of protection as car air bags: In a collision, you walk away unharmed. When affluent kids stumble, a parent or someone else often jumps in to help — by hiring a lawyer, paying for therapy, making sure contraceptives are available or merely finding a tutor.

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