Did loss of manufacturing jobs cause poor men to marry less? Or is it Uncle Sam?

CBSNews: “Why men are having problems getting married”:

If it’s universally acknowledged that a single man with a good fortune needs a wife, the American economy may be now illustrating the inverse of that corollary: Poor men with dwindling job prospects are going to lack marriage prospects.

The decline of the institution of marriage has been studied by social scientists and policymakers, but new economic research from MIT economics professor David Autor and his colleagues points to labor issues that helped Donald Trump win the presidential election: The decline of American manufacturing and the rise of Chinese imports.

As manufacturing jobs dried up over the last few decades, blue-collar men have suffered from lower income, fewer job opportunities and the increased likelihood of risky behavior, which in turn has hurt their marriage prospects, Autor and his co-authors wrote in a paper published at the National Bureau of Economic research…

Where are these young men going? Many are turning to risky behaviors such as heavy drinking and drug use. Trade shocks are leading to higher mortality rates for young men, which explains some — but not all — of the imbalance. Young men are also disappearing because they’re incarcerated, homeless or migrating to other areas to find better job opportunities.


The article doesn’t look at where some of the guys are going: places where they have more leisure time. As Charles Murray pointed out in his book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, men with less education spent more time doing leisure activities or as Murray calls it, “goofing off.”

But given the high demands that women and the state put on marriage these days, what makes more sense to a man whose prospects are poor: enjoying life or trying to support a woman when she can get more help from the government? Uncle Sam is the richest guy in the room and for women with fewer prospects of getting a rich man, Uncle Sam is often her husband. Poor men can’t compete or they might kill themselves trying. It’s easier to play video games or spend time doing other things that bring less stress.



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