Two comments:

First, on non-participation of prime-age males:

  • We lost 22% of 55-64 male labor force participation 1958-1995…
  • Since 1995 we have gained 4% in 55-64 male labor force participation…
  • We were losing 1.2%-points of 25-54 prime-age male employment and labor force participation every decade….
  • Then we lost 7%-points of prime-age male employment in two years…
  • Now, seven years into the recovery, nearly a decade later we have gotten back to normal as far as the unemployment rate is concerned, but we are still 1.8%-points low of trend as far as prime-age male employment and participation is concerned…
  • We have crowded a generation’s worth of this shedding prime-age male participation process into a decade…
  • Is not the natural reading that the labor market shock of 2008-9 made a lot of people permanently sick, disabled, depressed, disconnected?
  • If not the psychological and sociological consequences of the Great Recession and Elusive Recovery, what else could have caused the speed-up of this process?
  • If anyone has an alternative candidate for the speedup, I would like to hear it…

Second, on video games:

  • There was a time when I had to decide whether I would win regularly at God level on the computer game Civilization or be an affective Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury…
  • Back then I microwaved my CD-ROM…
  • But I am up to about one aleve every three days, so the lesson I take away from Alan is: I need to watch out…

Justin Fox: Not Working Makes People Sick: “Overall, men are less likely to be taking pain medication than women…

…But men who have dropped out of the labor force are much more likely to be taking pain meds than either other men or the women who’ve dropped out…. Most women who aren’t in the labor force are still working, just not for pay. Most men… simply aren’t working…. Half of the men not in the labor force… reporting that they were ill…. The ill-or-disabled percentage of the overall prime-age population wasn’t all that much higher for men (5.6 percent) than for women (5.4 percent).

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, about 97 percent of prime-age men either had jobs or were actively looking for them. Work has gotten less hazardous and physically demanding since then, not more. So how can it be that 5.6 percent of prime-age men report being out of the labor force now because of illness or disability, while only 3 percent were out of the labor force for any reason in the early 1960s?… A lot of it… is because long-term unemployment and inactivity make people sick…. Men who aren’t in the labor force spent an average of five and a half hours a day watching television and movies in 2014, compared with about two hours a day for working men and three and a half for unemployed men. That’s not exactly healthy.

It seems like vicious cycle. Men who drop out of the labor force–maybe initially for health reasons, maybe not–fall into lifestyles that render them ever less capable of rejoining it. (This may be true of a lot of women, too, but their characteristics are harder to nail down because of the split between those who are truly out of work and those with home responsibilities.) Getting them back into the labor force seems like it ought to be a national priority. But it’s not going to be easy.

Alan Krueger: Where Have All the Workers Gone?: “The Great Recession was accompanied by a noticeable decline in labor force participation, even among the prime working-age population…

…How much of this decline can be expected to reverse? Is a further tightening of the labor market a precondition for a much stronger rebound in participation? Is the lack of participation the consequence of a rise in the reservation wage or a fall in the market wage? Does it reflect a mismatch of skills? Would retraining programs be an effective tool to bring more people back into the labor force?

Alan B Krueger pdf Alan B Krueger pdf