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Are Men Opting Out Of The Workforce?

By Columns

Where are all the good men? That's what my single girlfriends are always asking me! Now the same question is being asked by a prominent Economist.           

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In his new book ‘A Nation of Takers’, Nicholas Eberstadt makes the case more and more men in this country are opting out of the workforce and signing onto government entitlements.

That's right, fewer men are working, and more of them are on the dole. Check out these numbers: over the past 60 or so years, the proportion of women who work has nearly doubled from 32% in 1948, to 60% today. But men? That's a whole different story.               

The proportion of men working during the same time has dropped to 73% from 89%. Let's face it; women are becoming more and more important in keeping America at work.

Now, you're probably thinking the Great Recession had something to do with men's ability to keep and retain a job, right? After all, many of the jobs lost during the recession were typically men's; like manufacturing, construction, and the like. 

Eberstadt finds the proportion of men working was already eroding even before the crash, down 13% between 1948 and 2008.

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Today, an unbelievable 27% of men do not consider themselves part of the workforce. The proportion of men in the labor force in their late 30's in this country is lower than in Greece! The problem for some men isn't the availability of jobs, but the desire to have one.

To be sure, the aging of the baby boomers has something to do with this. I'm not talking about people who rightly take their social security payments after a lifetime of paying into the system. What I'm talking about is men opting to go on the government dole at younger ages.  

Eberstadt blames a widespread abuse of entitlements. One example, the explosion in disability claims awarded under social security. Behind these numbers, many men are making the conscious decision to go on the dole rather than work, in some cases because they make more money that way.

I believe work is the way most of us establish a sense of self worth and purpose. I think most Americans believe that as well. It's time we created an environment in this country where it was more highly rewarded and prized; not just for the fellas but the women as well.