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Why so many men ages of 25 to 54 are not working

Stashed in: Young Americans, Awesome, America!, economics, Freakonomics, Personal Finance

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7 million prime-age men -- 12% of all men between 25 and 54 -- are not working or looking for work. 2 million more are looking for work but haven't found it. Most of these men have low skills of all kinds. It's one of the big problems of our economy but known to relatively few.

Let's review: economic growth is driven by 4 factors. These are productivity (output per hour worked), intensity (number of hours worked), participation (percentage of prime-age population working) and demography or dependency (ratio of citizens aged 15 - 64 to those under 15 or over 64, in other words a measure of how many prime-age people could ideally be working to support all the old people and kids).

The problem is that for reasons no one really understands, productivity has stalled. America already has one of the longest workweeks in the world, especially for salaried workers, and our percentage of old people is steadily creeping upward in both absolute and relative terms. So if we ALSO suffer from large chunks of the prime-age population voluntarily opting out of the workforce... the Titanic may have already struck the iceberg.

It's difficult to find solutions when so few people recognize this as a problem. 

Maybe all these men have dropped out of the workforce because it took a toll on their health:

Doubt it Panda, these are low-skill men and very few of them are married.

Then I wonder if these men can be trained to have new skills. 

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