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books about Eberstadt, Nicholas
Men Without Work: America's Invisible Crisis
Templeton Press, 2016
Library of Congress HD5724.E2247 2016 | Dewey Decimal 305.906940973
By one reading, things look pretty good for Americans today: the country is richer than ever before and the unemployment rate is down by half since the Great Recession—lower today, in fact, than for most of the postwar era.
But a closer look shows that something is going seriously wrong. This is the collapse of work—most especially among America’s men. Nicholas Eberstadt, a political economist who holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute, shows that while “unemployment” has gone down, America’s work rate is also lower today than a generation ago—and that the work rate for US men has been spiraling downward for half a century. Astonishingly, the work rate for American males aged twenty-five to fifty-four—or “men of prime working age”—was actually slightly lower in 2015 than it had been in 1940: before the War, and at the tail end of the Great Depression.
Today, nearly one in six prime working age men has no paid work at all—and nearly one in eight is out of the labor force entirely, neither working nor even looking for work. This new normal of “men without work,” argues Eberstadt, is “America’s invisible crisis.”
So who are these men? How did they get there? What are they doing with their time? And what are the implications of this exit from work for American society?
Nicholas Eberstadt lays out the issue and Jared Bernstein from the left and Henry Olsen from the right offer their responses to this national crisis.
For more information, please visit http://menwithoutwork.com.
Men Without Work: Post-Pandemic Edition (2022)
Templeton Press, 2022
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.
A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic
Templeton Press, 2012
Library of Congress HJ2051.N169 2012 | Dewey Decimal 336.39
In A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic, one of our country’s foremost demographers, Nicholas Eberstadt, details the exponential growth in entitlement spending over the past fifty years. As he notes, in 1960, entitlement payments accounted for well under a third of the federal government’s total outlays. Today, entitlement spending accounts for a full two-thirds of the federal budget. Drawing on an impressive array of data and employing a range of easy- to- read, four color charts, Eberstadt shows the unchecked spiral of spending on a range of entitlements, everything from medicare to disability payments. But Eberstadt does not just chart the astonishing growth of entitlement spending, he also details the enormous economic and cultural costs of this epidemic. He powerfully argues that while this spending certainly drains our federal coffers, it also has a very real,long-lasting, negative impact on the character of our citizens.
Also included in the book is a response from one of our leading political theorists, William Galston. In his incisive response, he questions Eberstadt’s conclusions about the corrosive effect of entitlements on character and offers his own analysis of the impact of American entitlement growth.
The State of the American Mind: 16 Leading Critics on the New Anti-Intellectualism
Templeton Press, 2015
Library of Congress E169.12.S738 2015 | Dewey Decimal 306.42
In 1987, Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind was published; a wildly popular book that drew attention to the shift in American culture away from the tenants that made America—and Americans—unique. Bloom focused on a breakdown in the American curriculum, but many sensed that the issue affected more than education. The very essence of what it meant to be an American was disappearing.
That was over twenty years ago. Since then, the United States has experienced unprecedented wealth, more youth enrolling in higher education than ever before, and technology advancements far beyond what many in the 1980s dreamed possible. And yet, the state of the American mind seems to have deteriorated further. Benjamin Franklin’s “self-made man” has become a man dependent on the state. Independence has turned into self-absorption. Liberty has been curtailed in the defense of multiculturalism.
In order to fully grasp the underpinnings of this shift away from the self-reliant, well-informed American, editors Mark Bauerlein and Adam Bellow have brought together a group of cultural and educational experts to discuss the root causes of the decline of the American mind. The writers of these fifteen original essays include E. D. Hirsch, Nicholas Eberstadt, and Dennis Prager, as well as Daniel Dreisbach, Gerald Graff, Richard Arum, Robert Whitaker, David T. Z. Mindich, Maggie Jackson, Jean Twenge, Jonathan Kay, Ilya Somin, Steve Wasserman, Greg Lukianoff, and R. R. Reno. Their essays are compiled into three main categories:
- States of Mind: Indicators of Intellectual and Cognitive Decline
- These essays broach specific mental deficiencies among the population, including lagging cultural IQ, low Biblical literacy, poor writing skills, and over-medication.
- Personal and Cognitive Habits/Interests
- These essays turn to specific mental behaviors and interests, including avoidance of the news, short attention spans, narcissism, and conspiracy obsessions.
- National Consequences
- These essays examine broader trends affecting populations and institutions, including rates of entitlement claims, voting habits, and a low-performing higher education system.
The State of the American Mind is both an assessment of our current state as well as a warning, foretelling what we may yet become. For anyone interested in the intellectual fate of America, The State of the American Mind offers an accessible and critical look at life in America and how our collective mind is faring.