How Working-Class Life Is Killing Americans, in Charts : Economics


This article is all over the place.Here is a quicking Brookings summary and a quick vid by one of the authors.Here is a much more comprehensively peice of their work.Here is the original 2015 article.From the second link, we here is a the tl;dr…a long-term process of decline, rooted in the steady deterioration in job opportunities for people with low education…. This process, which began for those leaving high school and entering the labor force after the early 1970s—the peak of working-class wages, and the beginning of the end of the “blue-collar aristocracy”—worsened over time, and caused, or at least was accompanied by, other changes in society that made life more difficult for less educated people, not only in their employment opportunities but also in their marriages, and in the lives of and prospects for their children. Traditional structures of social and economic support slowly weakened; no longer was it possible for a man to follow his father and grandfather into a manufacturing job, or to join the union and start on the union ladder of wages. Marriage was no longer the only socially acceptable way to form intimate partnerships, or to rear children. People moved away from the security of legacy religions or the churches of their parents and grandparents, toward churches that emphasized seeking an identity, or replaced membership with the search for connection or economic success These changes left people with less structure when they came to choose their careers, their religion, and the nature of their family lives. When such choices succeed, they are liberating; when they fail, the individual can only hold himself or herself responsible. In the worst cases of failure, this is a Durkheim-like recipe for suicide. We can see this as a failure to meet early expectations or, more fundamentally, as a loss of the structures that give life a meaning….. As technical change and globalization reduced the quantity and quality of opportunity in the labor market for those with no more than a high school degree, a number of things happened that have been documented in an extensive literature. The real wages of those with only a high school degree declined, and the college premium increased. More people went to college—a choice that, in practical terms, was not available to those lacking the desire, capability, resources, or an understanding of the expected monetary value of a college degree. Family incomes suffered by less than the decline in wages because women participated in the labor force in greater numbers, at least up to 2000, and worked to shore up family finances; even so, there was a loss of well-being, at least for some. Chetty and others (2017) estimate that only 60 percent of the cohort born in 1960 was better off in 1990 than their parents had been at age 30. They estimate that, for those born in 1940, 90 percent were better off at 30 than their parents had been at the same age. The data do not permit an analysis, but the deterioration was likely worse for whites than blacks, and for those with no more than a high school degree. As the labor market worsens, some people switch to lower-paying jobs—service jobs instead of factory jobs—and some withdraw from the labor market. Figure 18 shows that, after the birth cohort of 1940, in each successive birth cohort, men with less than a four-year college degree were less and less likely to participate in the labor force at any given age—a phenomenon that did not occur among men with a bachelor’s degree….Lower wages not only brought withdrawal from the labor force, but also made men less marriageable; marriage rates declined, and there was a marked rise in cohabitation, which was much less frowned upon than had been the case a generation before. Figure 19 shows that, after the cohort of 1945, men and women with less than a bachelor’s degree are less likely to have ever been married at any given age. Again, this is not occurring among those with a four-year degree. Unmarried, cohabiting partnerships are less stable than marriages. Moreover, among those who do marry, those without a college degree are also much more likely to divorce than are those with a degree. The instability of cohabiting partnerships is indeed their raison d’être, especially for the women, who preserve the option of trading up so that both men and women lose the security of the stable marriages that were the standard among their parents…….Childbearing is common in cohabiting unions, and again is less disapproved of than once was the case. But, as a result, more men lose regular contact with their children, which is bad for them, and bad for the children, many of whom live with several men during childhood. Some of a woman’s partners may be unsuitable as fathers, and those who are suitable bring renewed loss to children when it is their turn to depart. …… it is now unusual for white American mothers without a college degree not to have a child outside marriage. The repeated repartnering in the United States is often driven by the need for an additional income, something that is less true in Europe, with its more extensive safety net, especially of transfer income; Britain, for example, provides unconditional child allowances that are attached to children….the withdrawal of men from the labor force reflects this loss of industriousness; young men in particular prefer leisure—which is now more valuable because of video games (Aguiar and others 2017)—though much of the withdrawal of young men is for education (Krueger 2016). The loss of virtue is supported and financed by government payments, particularly disability payments….half the men who are out of the labor force are taking pain medication, and two-thirds of those take a prescription painkiller, such as an opioid.the big tl;dr:- long term process that is multifactorial- traditional social structure of working where daddy works weakens as firm move/compete globally-traditional church and ‘social virtues’ of ‘industriousness’ weaken as leisure becomes more ‘affordable’ corresponding with a decline in labor market participation- movement from factory to service sector jobs, with lower pay, questionable hours, sense of detachment from work- drugs and alcohol easily available-decline is stable marriages, decline in healthy environment for children. welfare makes this easier. its unusual for people not to have a kid out of wedlock. individuals have little qualms about leaving current partner for a new and better one- globalization and entry of women into workforce put substantial economic competition on men who simply were not socially or economically prepared- depopulation, geographic isolation, economic degradation of your localewhat its not about is:- working at Amazon- dey took our jerbs- the international poor- women entering work force- that companies “only care about money”- unions


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