Why have U.S. homeownership rates plunged from nearly 70 percent in 2004 to 63 percent today? Could part of the answer be that 10 million working-age American men are jobless — and are no longer looking for work? According to a new book, “Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis,” written by Nicholas Eberstadt, one of the country’s foremost demographers and political economist, America is facing an “invisible crisis” not seen since the Great Depression — men who have stopped looking for work. “Over the past two generations, America has suffered a quiet catastrophe,” writes Eberstadt in the introduction. “That catastrophe is the collapse of work — for men.” Today, argues Eberstadt, more than one in six men between 25 and 54 years old — the prime working years — are not merely unemployed but have withdrawn from the labor force entirely. That’s 10 million men, more than the entire population of New York City. “It’s kind of worse than it was in the Great Depression,” writes Eberstadt.

No one knows why this is happening. But it’s a big problem; and no one is talking about it. Until now. “America is now home to an immense army of jobless men no longer even looking for work — more than 7 million alone between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-five, the traditional prime of working life,” writes Eberstadt, the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. Drawing on an impressive array of data, Eberstadt details the far reaching economic, social and political consequences created by men without work. Eberstadt not only brings this “flight from work” to light, but he also shows the devastating social and economic damage by this largely invisible crisis. For example, only 84.3 percent of men aged 25 to 54 were working in 2015 compared to 94.1 percent in 1948. For generations, working-age American men fell into one of two categories: either holding a paid job or unemployed. Today, however, there’s a third category: men who are outside the labor force altogether; neither working nor seeking work.

Men Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis By Nicholas Eberstadt, demographer and political economist

About the Author

Nicholas Eberstadt is a political economist who holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a politically conservative think tank. He is also a Senior Adviser to the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), a member of the visiting committee at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a member of the Global Leadership Council at the World Economic Forum. Eberstadt has written many books and articles on political and economic issues.

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