Men Without Work

The stock market continues to set new records. Unemployment continues to go down. The United States is now at or near “full employment,” at least according to received wisdom. But a closer look at economic data by Nicholas Eberstadt reveals something else entirely. While “unemployment” has gone down, the work participation rate, and especially the male work rate, has been relentlessly declining for most of the postwar era and is now reaching a crisis with Depression-era levels.

At the height of an election cycle in which jobs, income inequality, underemployment, and the plight of the working class figure prominently in the national discussion comes a book that promises to change the terms of that debate entirely.

In Men Without Work, Nicholas Eberstadt, a political economist who holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute, contends there is a huge population of men—one-sixth of all prime-aged men in America—that is not only without jobs, but has stopped looking for jobs altogether. All of this amounts to a hidden time bomb with far reaching economic, social, and political consequences.

Men Without Work

The New York Times

“An unsettling portrait not just of male unemployment, but also of lives deeply alienated from civil society.”

Washington Post

“It is vital to reckon with the research of Nicholas Eberstadt, whose forthcoming book documents the travails of the 7 million prime-age men who have dropped out of the workforce.”

Financial Times

“Eberstadt has put his finger on what may be the most important socio-economic question the US will face over the next quarter-century.”

National Review

“Non-marriage and non-work are locked in a downward spiral. Eberstadt’s book is a fire bell.”

New York Post

“Eberstadt’s Men Without Work is the social-science ballast to the powerful impressionistic account offered in J.D. Vance’s bestselling Hillbilly Elegy, the book of the year.”

Investor's Business Daily

“Eberstadt, who is highly respected on both sides of the political spectrum for his rigorous use of data, notes a number of shocking statistics that belie the current wisdom of a booming jobs market.”

New York Review of Books

“A longtime fellow of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Eberstadt is a respected scholar and writes in a cautious and moderate tone. He often cites those who disagree with him.”

The Week

“Extremely informative. . . the otherwise hidden part of America’s economic story.”


“Nicholas Eberstadt of the center-right American Enterprise Institute released a book, Men Without Work, earlier this year has helped spark many man-centric conversations about labor force participation. Eberstadt argues that if you ignore differences in retirement age, American men are now less likely to work than European men, and that male labor force participation has been declining for a few generations now. This is all true.”

The Washington Free Beacon

“Eberstadt is right that this is ‘America’s invisible crisis’: an enormous problem that is rarely discussed and will not go away on its own. Eberstadt has done more than anyone else to raise awareness of the issue and to sketch its contours.”

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

“’America now is home to a vast army of jobless men who are no longer even looking for work — roughly 7 million of them age 25 to 54, the traditional prime working life,’ Mr. Eberstadt writes. . . .These members of the ‘Idle Army’ are the ‘detached men’ of America, Eberstadt says. And their detachment, and their numbers, are growing. No nation can survive such a pandemic.”

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