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As Wages Stagnate For Men, America Must Look To Its Culture For Resolution

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The following is a transcript from my radar from the June 7 edition of “Rising” on HillTV.

A study with big findings landed with little notice late last month. The University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics published “Lifetime Earnings in the United States over Six Decades.”

“[T]he majority of US men who entered the U.S. labor market since the late 1960s have seen little-to-no gains in lifetime earnings relative to earlier cohorts, despite the fact that the U.S. economy has grown significantly during the same period,” the authors concluded. “Accounting for rising employer-provided health and retirement benefits partly mitigates these findings but does not overturn them.”

“Much of this stagnation for men,” they noted, “can be traced to the conditions during the labor market entry of a cohort: Newer cohorts of men faced declining or stagnant median initial earnings relative to previous cohorts and did not experience faster earnings growth over their lifecycle to make up for the lower entry earnings.”

A 142-word blurb on the study in Axios reported on its findings, highlighting, “The lifetime earnings of the median male worker declined by at least 10% for those who entered the workforce at age 25 in 1967, compared to those who entered the workforce at the same age in 1983.”

This should be big news, particularly for a media that wishes to understand why it stood slack-jawed and teary-eyed at the Javits Center back in 2016, strangers in their own complicated country. We could talk about the legacy’s media dearth of coverage and comprehension of trends such as this one. We could return to the well of “Coming Apart” and analyze our increasingly sorted socioeconomic structure and our increasingly nihilistic elites. That would all be true and would all be important.

But while those issues are inextricably intertwined with their consequences, we can’t afford to conflate them. So let’s for a moment focus on those consequences. As those earnings have declined, obesity is up and religiosity is down.

A 2019 report from the Joint Economic Committee’s Social Capital Project found, “Mortality from deaths of despair

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