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Men in Decline Means More Single Moms

A new study conducted by economist David H. Autor, and reported in the NYTimes, analyzes how and why men have started to lag behind the fairer sex, and what that means for marriage.

It all boils down to education. Today, a degree is all but a prerequisite for finding gainful employment. Women have done a good job reading the tea leaves; for men it’s a different story. In 2010, among 35 year olds, women were 17 percent more likely to have attended college, and 23 percent more likely to have a bachelor’s degree. For economists, this is a puzzling trend:

“I think the greatest, most astonishing fact that I am aware of in social science right now is that women have been able to hear the labor market screaming out ‘You need more education’ and have been able to respond to that, and men have not,” said Michael Greenstone, an M.I.T. economics professor who was not involved in Professor Autor’s work. “And it’s very, very scary for economists because people should be responding to price signals. And men are not. It’s a fact in need of an explanation.”

Theories have been tossed around, from Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men to Charles Murray’s Coming Apart, but it’s still unclear why men are falling behind in education and employment. But whatever the reason, men are becoming less appealing to women. Meager earnings tend to make a man less marriageable. And as men are skipping college in greater numbers, their wages are dropping.

But as we noted yesterday, the turn away from marriage hasn’t made men any less likely to father children. As a result, single motherhood is on the rise, and boys growing up without fathers will face even worse odds of successful employment and marriage.

An interesting take on an important issue. Read the whole thing. 

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