Puzzles in search of answers: why are men losing ground?

“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.”

Most economists agree that men have suffered disproportionately from economic changes like the decline of manufacturing. But careful analyses have found that such changes explain only a small part of the shrinking wage gap.

That is from a very excellent article by Binyamin Applebaum, on why men are (along some but not all margins) losing economic ground, especially below the ranks of the top earners.  I liked this sentence at the end:

Instead of making marriage more attractive, he [Christopher Jencks] said, it might be better for society to help make men more attractive.

As I once asked Bryan Caplan, “How many marriageable men do you think there are?  And what are the other women supposed to do?”


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