American Consequences - January 2018

Working men are consistently more likely to vote than un-working men. Finally, with respect to self-reported illegal drug use for the population of prime working age, GSS reveals a sharp divide between working men and others. In 2004 (the most recent figures available) 8% of men with work said they used some illegal drugs over the past year. 22% of unemployed men reported illegal drug use. And nearly 31% of un-workers admitted to illegal drug use. To a distressing degree, these men appear to have relinquished what we ordinarily think of as adult responsibilities: not only as breadwinners, but as parents, family members, community members, and citizens. Having freed themselves in some large measure of such obligations, they have filled their days instead with the full-bore pursuit of more immediate sources of gratification (not all of them admirable, or even gratifying). The data may be read to suggest that something akin to infantilization besets all too many un-working men. SUMMARY The death of work has ushered in a host of additional costs at the personal and the social level that may be difficult to quantify but are easy to describe. The costs include the corrosive effects of prolonged idleness on personality and behavior, the loss of self-esteem and respect from others that may attend a man’s voluntary

In the ATUS category “television and movies (not religious)”: the contrast is so enormous as to suggest a fundamental difference in culture. For un-working men, this category consumes an average of five and a half hours a day – nearly 800 hours a year more for NILF men than unemployed men, 1200-plus hours more than men with jobs, and nearly 1400 hours more than working women. And what else are the un-working men doing during their many hours of free time? ATUS does determine this exactly. But it is a reasonable inference that the Internet may play a big role. Another take on the lifestyles of men without work can be gleaned from the General Social Survey (“GSS”), a large-scale and ongoing sociological study administered by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. GSS allows us to examine self-reported patterns of social engagement, social participation, and asocial behavior for prime-age American men according to employment status. By every indicator, NILF men look to be less socially engaged than men with work. With respect to participation in civil society, there is a longstanding pattern of lower religious attendance for un-working men than for working ones. And un-working men are much less likely to have volunteered over the previous month than working men . Daily newspaper reading is appreciably lower for the un-working than the working.

82 January 2018

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