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Men Without Work: America's Invisible Crisis (New Threats to Freedom Series) Paperback – September 19, 2016
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“Nicholas Eberstadt has become one of our highest-impact socioeconomic and demographic analysts, rivaling his American Enterprise Institute colleague Charles Murray. In Men without Work, he alerts us to a new ‘invisible national crisis.’ . . . Eberstadt is thus pointing to a fatal flaw—a sexual suicide in an American polity where women outvote men and prefer socialism and stasis over progress and prosperity, where they choose dependency on government over collaboration with husbands and family.” —George Gilder, National Review“Nicholas Eberstadt has become one of our highest-impact socioeconomic and demographic analysts, rivaling his American Enterprise Institute colleague Charles Murray. In Men without Work, he alerts us to a new ‘invisible national crisis.’”
Another sentence you could include on the site if you want to, Trish,
"[A]n unsettling portrait not just of male unemployment, but also of lives deeply alienated from civil society." —Susan Chira, New York Times
“The work rate for adult men has plunged 13 percentage points in a half-century. This ‘work deficit’ of ‘Great Depression–scale underutilization’ of male potential workers is the subject of Nicholas Eberstadt’s new monograph Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis, which explores the economic and moral causes and consequences of this.” —George F. Will, Washington Post
“Eberstadt has put his finger on what may be the most important socioeconomic question the U.S. will face over the next quarter-century.” —Lawrence Summers, Financial Times
"Nicholas Eberstadt of the center-right American Enterprise Institute released a book, Men Without Work, earlier this year has helped spark many man-centric conversations about labor force participation. Eberstadt argues that if you ignore differences in retirement age, American men are now less likely to work than European men, and that male labor force participation has been declining for a few generations now. This is all true." —Matthew Yglesias, Vox
“Non-marriage and non-work are locked in a downward spiral. Eberstadt’s book is a fire bell.” —Mona Charen, National Review
“Eberstadt is right that this is ‘America’s invisible crisis’: an enormous problem that is rarely discussed and will not go away on its own. Eberstadt has done more than anyone else to raise awareness of the issue and to sketch its contours.” — Robert VerBruggen, Washington Free Beacon"Eberstadt’s Men Without Work is the social-science ballast to the powerful impressionistic account offered in J. D. Vance’s bestselling Hillbilly Elegy, the book of the year. . . . Eberstadt puts statistical meat on Vance’s rhetorical bones. His subject isn’t the unemployed but the not-employed, not men looking for work but men who have stopped looking for work. Those looking for work are counted as part of the labor force. . . . The crisis of the un-working, so crushingly depicted in Eberstadt’s remorseless charts and facts, is a spiritual disease that has been slowly building within the American body politic and is beginning to rot us from within.” —John Podhoretz, New York Post
“‘America now is home to a vast army of jobless men who are no longer even looking for work—roughly 7 million of them age 25 to 54, the traditional prime working life,’ Mr. Eberstadt writes… . These members of the ‘Idle Army” are the “detached men’ of America, Eberstadt says. And their detachment, and their numbers, are growing. No nation can survive such a pandemic.” —Pittsburgh Tribune
“It is vital to reckon with the research of Nicholas Eberstadt, whose forthcoming book documents the travails of the 7 million prime-age men who have dropped out of the workforce.” —Washington Post
“Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis is essential reading for this election cycle.” —The Globe and Mail
“’America now is home to a vast army of jobless men who are no longer even looking for work — roughly 7 million of them age 25 to 54, the traditional prime working life,’ Mr. Eberstadt writes. . . .These members of the ‘Idle Army’ are the ‘detached men’ of America, Eberstadt says. And their detachment, and their numbers, are growing. No nation can survive such a pandemic.” —Pittsburgh Tribune Review
“Eberstadt, who is highly respected on both sides of the political spectrum for his rigorous use of data, notes a number of shocking statistics that belie the current wisdom of a booming jobs market.” —Investor’s Business Daily
- “Too many Americans today are unemployed or lack the skills to thrive in our modern economy. Many of these individuals rely on welfare or disability payments instead of earned income. Nicholas Eberstadt’s Men Without Work reveals the depth of this problem, and warns that the pattern of prime-age males fleeing work can no longer safely be ignored.” —David Bass, Philanthropy Magazine
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Top Customer Reviews
I had a partner myself who worked for twenty years, but when he moved in with me, he lost interest in work. When I tried to work with a social worker as I separated from him, she told me that most households need someone at home full time to manage their affairs. When I was dating in my 30's, I met an endless array of men without work.
I will mention that I also see the opposite. I know women who stayed home to have children, then never returned to work. One friend of mine has a pharmacy degree, but does not seek work. Her family lives on the edge financially. I don't agree with her choice, although it is hers to make.
I'd also like to give this author credit for acknowledging that the so-called welfare moms of Clinton's era were busy caring for children.
Thanks for writing the book.
He has compiled an extensive analysis with a great many graphs to attempt to explain the situation. There are a great number of factors to take into account. A statistician would attempt to put together a regression analysis, parameterizing all of the major factors and looking for the linear equation that best relates the dependent variable, male employment, to the independent ones. However it is not quite that simple.
The major dependent variable is called EPOP - employment to population ratio. After World War II almost all able-bodied men – upwards of 95% – in the 25 to 54 year age bracket were working. Those that were not working were considered unemployed, looking for work. There were, as always, a few men who were permanently out of the workplace. These include men with deep physical and mental impairments, by birth, accident or war.
However, even in this Halcyon postwar period there were different ways to look at it. Another choice for a dependent variable might have been men aged 20 years and older, embracing student and retiree populations.
Many independent variables suggest themselves, among them:
• Education – the fact that men spend more of their working years acquiring an education
• Educational attainment – the fact that there is more workplace demand for better educated men
• Technology – the changing nature of the workplace
• Immigration background – some people came to this country seeking work, others found themselves here and may or may not want to work.
• Marriage – married men have a stronger incentive to work
• Children – men with children have a stronger incentive to work
• The entry of women into the workplace – more competition
• Race and ethnicity – lingering prejudice against certain groups
• Criminality – arrest, conviction and incarceration history
• Welfare and unemployment income – Social Security Disability, Medicare, WIC, AFDC, food stamps and many other government programs.
Eberstadt makes several strong arguments. The first is the observation that the statistics for the above-named independent variables come from a number of different sources and are not compatible. For example, many men convicted of felonies are given suspended sentences and therefore do not experience incarceration. Some statistics capture this distinction, some don't. Government welfare programs do not keep good statistics. Though Eberstadt does not say so, there is a strong will on the part of many to avoid doing so. His first argument would be that there is a need for reliable, compatible data collection in order to study the situation.
His strongest argument is that the percentage of the population under control of the criminal justice system skyrocketed in the 1970s and 1980s. The percentage of young men with a criminal background went from under 2% to over 5%. For young black men that went over 20%. It is difficult for people with a criminal background to get jobs. Eberstadt does not dwell on the fact that men become socialized to a life of crime while in prison. While this is definitely true, it is the harder phenomena and to parameterize.
The book concludes with a call to action. He would like to see a higher level of entrepreneurialism in America – more new businesses that might employ young people. He would like to lessen the stigma against employing men with criminal backgrounds. He would like to see fewer disincentives to work. He contends that if men can get along adequately by tapping into the various welfare programs available, they will not bestir themselves to work.
Lastly, delightfully, Eberstadt has invited comment from Henry Olson and Jared Bernstein, other students of the problem who have somewhat different point of view. They each contribute five page essays gently criticizing Eberstadt's article and the book concludes with Eberstadt's last words.
That's the book review. It deserves five stars for what it is. Here is an independent opinion of what it does not include but should.
My first and most significant observation is that Eberstadt is an American Enterprise Institute colleague of Charles Murray, the author of Coming Apart -The State of White America, 1960-2010
and Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. Murray's willingness to be more politically incorrect allows him to better illuminate these problems.
The entrance of women into the workplace represents more than competition for men. It is a profound social change. Working women do not need men to take care of them. They have less inclination to get married and have fewer children. Whereas women have found a place for themselves in a man's world, men have absolutely not found positions in the former women's world. Men are not taking the place of mothers.
As Murray said in "Coming Apart," the things that give meaning to a man's life are belonging to a community, commitment to a family, meaningful work and religion. Absent these, there is not much purpose in life. I would advocate that Eberstadt consider the diminished role of men in American life as one of the explanations for their diminished work.
There has been a jihad against men in the University and the workplace. Men are routinely accused of sexual harassment and discrimination. It makes the workplace less attractive to them. Fewer of them go to college – the professoriate is increasingly feminine, and hostile to men. Four recent books on the topic are Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging,Sexual Utopia in Power,Is There Anything Good About Men?: How Cultures Flourish by Exploiting Men and No Campus for White Men: The Transformation of Higher Education into Hateful Indoctrination
Technology relentlessly decreases the workplace demand for strength, bravery and tolerance of unpleasant working conditions. Male jobs such as mining, construction, warehousing and stevedoring are in increasingly less demand. There is more on the horizon. Over the road trucking is being targeted for driverless vehicles.
New jobs are more intellectually demanding. Nursing, librarianship, restaurant management and almost any kind of white-collar work require computer competence as well as domain specific skills. Being a cubical rat also requires more of a docile temperament. Testosterone is a liability.
Eberstadt discusses the possibility of lingering racial discrimination. In bringing race into the equation, he should revisit The Bell Curve. Two additional decades of work have not resulted in one iota of change in the science of intelligence. The gaps separating Asians, Whites, Hispanics and Blacks remain immutable. What have changed are the demographics of these groups. Asians and whites are having the fewest children, and the smartest among them are having fewer than the slower. Eberstadt needs to grapple with the reality that the workforce is getting dumber just as the workplace demands more and more intelligence. Helmuth Nyberg is one of the few social scientists to address this problem head on.