The New York Times has a fascinating story on the rising percentage of men in their prime working years (30 – 54) who are not working. Nationally, about 14% of men that age are not working; my state of Kentucky is the second worst at 20.9%, beaten, if that is the right word, only by West Virginia, where a quarter of the men aren't employed.
When we compare the marital status of the working and not working men, what we find will be no surprise to readers of this blog. Of the working men, 70% are married; of the non-working men, only 41% are. The divorced comparisons are particularly scary: 17% of the working men, compared to a whopping 37% of the non-workers – nearly as many as the married.
Wives are more likely to push men to work; husbands are more likely to want to work to support their wives. The Times article tells us nothing about whether they have children or not, but men normally have responsibility for children when they have wives.
The article suggests that it is welfare, especially disability payments, which make this rising rate of non-working possible. I think, though, that welfare is not likely to be a major cause, though it might be an important support force in prolonging unemployment. The major cure for male indolence is marriage and fatherhood. As the latter declines, the former rises.