One of the more interesting books I recently read is Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis (2016) by Nicholas Eberstadt who is associated with the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). In around 150 pages, Eberstadt thoroughly spreads out what should be a prime issue in US labor policy. Yet, as so often, the fate of men tends to be of little interest. Many of you are probably aware that men rank highly when it comes to
Eberstadt provides the reader with copious amounts of data, most of which is
The big takeaway of Men Without Work is that men have increasingly been dropping out of the labor force. Their numbers are so enormous that the “un-working men”, as Eberstadt calls them, nowadays outnumber the number of unemployed men by a factor of 3 to 1, which is completely bonkers. I was completely unaware of this phenomenon. In this book, we learn how these numbers have developed over time. Some of the possible explanations are the loss of the local manufacturing base with, in conjunction with mass immigration, leads to a double-whammy for the American male. Eventually, they end up being discouraged and prefer living off welfare or mooching off relatives.
The picture of these men is hardly encouraging. We learn from extensive studies that shows that these men almost completely idle away their time instead of making an attempt to rejoin the labor force. Those are men who have seemingly completely given up on life. While there is no explicit connection made in the book, I would suspect that the opioid epidemic also plays a role here, which leads to millions of Americans sitting in front of their TV, stoned. The corresponding discussion by Eberstadt is very enlightening. He turns philosophical for a moment and contrasts “leisure” with “idleness”. Whereas the former elevates, the latter corrupts. This distinction would also be relevant in discussions about Universal Basic Income as there is no indication at all that a bunch of lefties getting more government handouts would lead to an explosion of creativity.
At a few
The book concludes with two responses, one by a lefty, and one by a right-winger. It is well worth having a look at Men Without Work just for the response by lefty Jared Bernstein. On p. 172 you’ll find a time series that shows a staggering drop
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