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Nicholas Eberstadt’s landmark 2016 study, Men Without Work, cast a spotlight on the collapse of work for men in modern America. Rosy reports of low unemployment rates and “full or near full employment” conditions, he contends, were overlooking a quiet, continuing crisis: Depression-era work rates for American men of “prime working age” (25–54).

The grim truth: over six million prime-age men were neither working nor looking for work. Conventional unemployment measures ignored these labor force dropouts, but their ranks had been rising relentlessly for half a century. Eberstadt’s unflinching analysis was, in the words of The New York Times, “an unsettling portrait not just of male unemployment, but also of lives deeply alienated from civil society.”

The famed American work ethic was once near universal: men of sound mind and body took pride in contributing to their communities and families. No longer, warned Eberstadt. And now—six years and one catastrophic pandemic later—the problem has not only worsened: it has seemingly been spreading among prime-age women and workers over fifty-five.

In a brand new introduction, Eberstadt explains how the government’s response to Covid-19 inadvertently exacerbated the flight from work in America. From indiscriminate pandemic shutdowns to almost unconditional “unemployment” benefits, Americans were essentially paid not to work.

Thus today, despite the vaccine rollouts, inexplicable numbers of working age men and women are sitting on the sidelines while over 11 million jobs go unfilled. Current low rates of unemployment, touted by pundits and politicians, are grievously misleading. The truth is that fewer prime-age American men are looking for readily available work than at any previous juncture in our history. And others may be catching the “Men Without Work” virus too.

Given the devastating economic impact of the Covid calamity and the unforeseen aftershocks yet to come, this reissue of Eberstadt’s groundbreaking work is timelier than ever.

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Acknowledgments / ix
Introduction: Post-Pandemic Edition (2022) / 3
Introduction: 2016 Edition / 31
Part 1: Men Without Work
1: The Collapse of Work in the Second Gilded Age / 37
2: Hiding in Plain Sight: An Army of Jobless Men, Lost in an Overlooked Depression / 47
3: Postwar America’s Great Male Flight from Work / 61
4: America’s Great Male Flight from Working Historical and International Perspective / 76
5: Who Is He? A Statistical Portrait of the Un-Working American Man / 89
6: Idle Hands: Time Use, Social Participation, and the Male Flight from Work / 106
7: Long-Term Structural Forces and the Decline of Work for American Men / 125
8: Dependence, Disability, and Living Standards for Un-Working Men / 138
9: Criminality and the Decline of Work for American Men / 157
10: What Is to Be Done? / 177
Part 2: Dissenting Points of View
11: Creating the Beginning to of an End by Henry Olsen / 187
12: A Well-Known Problem by Jared Bernstein / 196
13: A Response to Olsen and Bernstein / 207
Notes / 215
About the Contributors / 239Acknowledgments / ix
Introduction: Post-Pandemic Edition (2022) / 3
Introduction: 2016 Edition / 31
Part 1: Men Without Work
1: The Collapse of Work in the Second Gilded Age / 37
2: Hiding in Plain Sight: An Army of Jobless Men, Lost in an Overlooked Depression / 47
3: Postwar America’s Great Male Flight from Work / 61
4: America’s Great Male Flight from Working Historical and International Perspective / 76
5: Who Is He? A Statistical Portrait of the Un-Working American Man / 89
6: Idle Hands: Time Use, Social Participation, and the Male Flight from Work / 106
7: Long-Term Structural Forces and the Decline of Work for American Men / 125
8: Dependence, Disability, and Living Standards for Un-Working Men / 138
9: Criminality and the Decline of Work for American Men / 157
10: What Is to Be Done? / 177
Part 2: Dissenting Points of View
11: Creating the Beginning to of an End by Henry Olsen / 187
12: A Well-Known Problem by Jared Bernstein / 196
13: A Response to Olsen and Bernstein / 207
Notes / 215
About the Contributors / 239

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