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Leisure Luxuries and the Labor Supply of Young Men [pdf] (princeton.edu)
84 points by gwern on Feb 16, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 116 comments

When I volunteered at a suicide prevention center, I dealt with a ton of college grads who couldn't find jobs, and were depressed, suicidal and deep in debt. They said they felt alone, and their parents just thought they were lazy.

Maybe videogames are their only way to eke out some self-proclaimed happiness being a hero in some fake reality. But that happiness will quickly fade as they age, and they are forced to face reality in terms of resources needed for survival.

I think this also explains the rise of the extremist youth groups antifa and the alt-right. Both are dominated by young men looking for purpose and value.

edit: maybe also explains the rise of that jordan peterson guy.

As far as Peterson goes, I've heard him point out the trend of young males paying attention to him and the potential link to feelings of dissolution/meaninglessness/lack of purpose. He seems to think these sets of hypothesis are on the right track.

Video games seem very similar to drugs in this regard. I've not seen evidence of video games being causal in any way, any more than drugs. I think it's more accurate to describe them as potential negative amplifiers; they're very easy to abuse because of how well they satiate the aforementioned feelings many people (notably young men) experience.

Does anyone else see huge similarities between what this paper is describing and the freeter/hikikomori/herbivore men trends going on in Japan since the late 1980s?

I don't have the time or inclination to look into it more deeply but it almost seems like the West is just living through a social reality that has been going on for decades in Japan. Maybe there are some interesting social and economic insights that can be gleaned from that change to predict the future in the west.

I was saying this in the late ‘90s. I would get out the relevant posts but they are in Italian anyway; I believe in Italy we saw the phenomenon a bit earlier because of a number of factors (the economy braked earlier than elsewhere, it’s a more traditionalist country than average, etc etc).

On the other hand, media and academia are always out to sensationalise. It’s entirely possible that a certain degree of social disaffection has always been there (see “young Werther”, Leopardi and so on), but the overall population growth was such that a small but constant percentage of a community is now a big number in absolute terms.

If you are looking for a possible avenue out of the post-grad malaise I would suggest this site: https://strenuouslife.co/

It helped me, but it does take effort. I feel the folks there are genuine and trying hard, not scammers. Yes, the stuff there can seem a bit strange, but I think it helps. I'm not associated with the site nor make any cash from it. Yes, it's a bit expensive, I agree. That said, I think it is a good idea and can be worth the money if you put work into it too. Again, it's one road, not the road, but I think it's a really good road all the same.

As a 25 YO male this is an issue near and dear to me. IMO it all comes back to slow TFP [1] (total factor productivity) growth.

New technology is not (on aggregate) making us more productive, or growing the economy to the point where we need young, college educated men and women to learn productive new skills to sustain and grow our communities and the collective state and country level economy.

I went into the embedded industry to learn more about the people and companies that make all the things we take for granted or never think about as kids - cars, planes, industrial PLCs, oil rigs, pacemakers, insulin pumps, ATMs. Modern chip production, and what people have built from tiny MCUs and DSPs all the way up to the crazy beefy CPUs, GPUs, and FPGAs is as close to magic as I've found in the real world.

But the industry of "global infrastructure" - transportation of people and goods, war, healthcare, manufacturing, resource extraction, retail - as a whole is stagnant. Especially when compared to the golden century we are just coming out of, when our standard of living in developed nations jumped up exponentially due to distributed electricity, indoor plumbing, modern appliances, transistors, data transmission technology, internal combustion engines, and advances in chemical and medical technology (much of this accelerated by research into war technology). Economist Robert Gordon has studied this in detail here [2].

Video games are definitely a way to feel productive, achieve well-defined goals, and get a sense of accomplishment or progression that is often lacking in the workplace. But IMO in many cases they are a symptom of a larger issue, not a cause.

There are many forms of escapism, video games are just one that my generation is more accustomed to having grown up and made friends through social interactions over video games alongside traditional things like sports, clubs, parties, etc.

The growing need for escapism is IMO the larger issue.

[1] In economics TFP is a variable that attempts to capture the effect of technology and infrastructure on the production function. Since these effects are much too complex and indirect to calculate explicitly (how many more widgets can a factory produce because of the roads that allow their workers to drive into work from the suburbs?) it is imputed as a residual. http://www.karlwhelan.com/Macro2/Notes9.pdf

[2] https://www.amazon.com/Rise-Fall-American-Growth-Princeton/d...

I also work in embedded and this issue is also dear to me, seeing how I've been there dealing with doubt and uncertainty for the future and my place as a young man in this world.

That being said, I think that your view is wrong and that tfp _has_ been growing and we have become better at productivity. It's just that is was very localized, the inequalities in productivity are very high and a whole class of people that used to be productive are not anymore(because of various and very complex reasons). Also, I think we, as a species have become complacent and some of us are wired to function better in "crysis" mode than in a normal world. Maybe being normal is one of our contemporary ailments

Data doesn’t support the idea that an increasingly few productivity superstars in crisis mode can push TFP forward:


This paper is interesting but I don't think it really gets at the core of the issue. It associates the decline of young men in the workforce with so-called "leisure luxuries" such as video games. The paper even admits that, "For other groups - younger women, older men and older women - recreational computer is not a leisure luxury."

I would like to submit a complimentary hypothesis. While it may be true that young males are more interested in video games, video games are not necessarily the cause of the decline of younger males in the workforce. Perhaps games are simply a tool of escapism, utilized by a demoralized section of the population (young males). This could explain why young females are not influenced as drastically by the same leisure luxury. As with anything, the underlying reason behind young male decline in the work force could be a variety of things (e.g. males have more interest in games compared to young females or are more addiction prone to game than young females), but I believe that the case for escapism in young males in a society which is increasingly anti-male is a strong one to explain them seeking refuge in video games.

As always when people make these claims, you have a lot of far-from-proven assumption embedded in here, so the claim that society is "anti-male" rather than "less aggressively pro-male than it used to be" is unsupported.

A more subtle point would be that, to a marginal young male, it may be hard to tell the difference. Resentment is likely to be high to start with in someone struggling but consistently failing. This I find much easier to believe, and less wildly in contradiction to the evidence of my (male) eyes and the experience of people who grew up around me. But it's a hugely significant difference in what it implies about who should do what.

That's without getting into proving a correlation, let alone causation. The timelines don't seem to line up for your claim, IMO.

> demonstrate that society is "anti-male" rather than "less aggressively pro-male than it used to be."

Call it whatever you'd like... it can still be a contributing factor. Also, I never claimed society was anti-male, only increasingly so.

Ok. So now you seem to be saying "increasingly anti-male" is the "less biased in favor of males than it used to be." Let's run with that!

My fellow men - namely the video-gaming and complaining-about-anti-male views that we're talking about here - will have to compete with non-males. Male gamers have a shitty as hell reputation for social skills and behavior - maybe people who feel inclined and entitled to act like that are simply less employable because people think they're assholes.

This isn't all or even most gamers, but it seems to be the ones that make the most noise both in the games and about how everything is turning against them socially. Rallying people behind a cause of "things aren't quite as in my favor as they used to be" is going to be hard, even if it feels very real and discouraging.

EDIT: reworded in response to good point from response about equating laziness with employment outcomes

I'm unconvinced by the class arguments so far, though. The people I know personally in this bucket are not from lower-class backgrounds. The people I know whose parents were constantly struggling to stay employed and make ends meet have a very different perspective on what it takes to get by, and never had the same amount of time available to waste.

I think it wise to not automatically conflate laziness or the lack of desire to compete with non-males with unemployment or underemployment.

True, good point, revising.

You're not getting any replies from the person you replied to because you exposed yourself as too closedminded to even be capable of considering it.

> "anti-male" rather than "less aggressively pro-male than it used to be"

Is there a difference? The assumed model in a lot of these discussions is that there is a pie of goodies that is divided, zero-sum, between sexes. But this assumes (or at least implies) identical utility functions. A trivial example: government funding for any abortions I might have is of zero value to me, since as a dude, I'm not likely to fall pregnant any time soon. This can be extended to whatever gender stereotype the reader feels comfortable standing by.

It becomes harder to determine in isolation when you take into account that the sexes have not just sex-specific benefits, but also problems and responsibilities. My sister may feel a pressure to be warm and comforting; I serve as her unpaid bodyguard if we find ourselves in any sort of dangerous situation.

I'm not trying to say these "are equivalent," --- indeed, that's the point. I don't think they can be really compared. The only place we approach anything like equality (which implies not just equal measure, but like terms) is in the NumbersLand of employee compensation, and we can't even do that unimpeachably enough for everyone's satisfaction, because other factors leak in.

My point is that I don't think comparison is a fruitful model (anti-male does not automatically mean pro-female), and that it's relative. Is society more pro-male than 1000 AD? Probably, I haven't caught dysentery lately. On the other hand, I wasn't expected to provide a college education for my children then, either.

We should be pro-male! We should be pro-female too!

> A trivial example: government funding for any abortions I might have is of zero value to me, since as a dude, I'm not likely to fall pregnant any time soon.

For young men, especially poor young men, this is an absolutely terrible example (child support laws, for example).

I'll admit it's not ideal. Could you suggest a better one?

>>> The assumed model in a lot of these discussions is that there is a pie of goodies that is divided, zero-sum, between sexes. But this assumes (or at least implies) identical utility functions.

I agree that this is a faulty premise. However, there's a difference between the pressure of social norms and whether this particular "zero-sum sentiment" is actually reflected in, say, US law or policy. I personally believe it's not, and I can't think of any policy or law that refutes that.

You probably don't even have to be a marginal young male in a purely technical sense.

I mean, you could just be a hispanic young male or something.

In terms of happiness and the like, it might actually be the reverse. I saw an op-ed recently about this ( http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-frey-millennials-... ), and some googling also turns up some source reports like this from 2017 based on what looks like a different from some people at UTexas: https://qz.com/937266/young-white-americans-are-the-most-apa...

Interesting takeaways: whites were less optimistic but also less ambitious and less concerned.

> White millennials were also consistently less concerned about reaching personal aspirations, such as achieving financial stability, owning a home, traveling, or getting a college degree.

So there's a potentially interesting connection to the male-vs-female question. If both whites, and males, show reduced motivation despite being currently at the top of the pyramid, that's curious. Could be that things are too cushy (having tons of time to play video games doesn't seem like the result of anti-male pressures). Could be that things are too hollow, that material results aren't ultimately so meaningful, especially when they're from your parents labor, not your own?

I'm somewhat weary of the notion that all whites, and especially that all males, are somehow at the top of the pyramid.

Not every white or every male has to be in the upper echelon for the aggregate trends in to be interesting. And let's remember we're talking, here, about a population defined by copious amounts of free time and the economic flexibility to devote that free time to serious video gaming.

If you were interested in trends of males being at the top of the pyramid, why wouldn't you start with Asian American males?

"...This could explain why young females are not influenced as drastically by the same leisure luxury..."


Maybe young women just don't like video games? Let's be honest here, most of the "hobby" type video games that require dedicated time to be allocated to them are not filled with content that women like to consume. I'd wager that the male/female split in a game like CoD is nowhere near 50/50. (Even though many in the video game industry claim it to be.)

Add to that the fact that many young women likely wouldn't want to fire up PUBG, CoD, or Fortnite and have obscenities hurled at them...

and it's pretty clear why women seem to be less interested in that content.

I think a more helpful strategy would be to attempt to discover why older MEN seem to spend less time in these pursuits than younger men? This might shed some light on characteristics specific to younger men that would explain why they love these sorts of activities so much.

That answer might be a whole lot more pedestrian than we'd hope for. ie - Younger men just have more time. (No kids). Or it could be truly novel, and provide some great insights into human psychology. (But more probably, it's somewhere in the middle.)

Women are 52% of gamers, even if they don't like those particular genres and certainly don't like the nastier kind of competition: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/18/52-per...

Older men vs younger men: cohort effect? if you're over 40-50ish you didn't quite grow up with games.

I'm speculating in a subject I don't know all that well, but....

Aren't women-focused games generally less long-term engaging than male-focused games?

At least in my experience, the games that I perceive women generally want to play are more "5 minutes here and there" type games vs "3 hours straight" type games. So perhaps there are more women playing games, but they individually spend less time doing it?

Does anyone have stats on this either way?

In that age range we grew up with classic video games and the first personal computers.

Space Invaders and the Atari 2600 came out in 1977. A 50 year old would have 10 years old then.

I'm a bit younger than that and grew up with Apple II, Commodore 64, Amiga, Mac Plus, and so on. Many of the nostalgic references in Ready Player One were from around then.

A more interesting job is my first thought as to why older men don't use video games.

When my job unsatisfying I do tend to resort to video games to compensate.

Older men golf or (if not quite as old) play basketball. :) Physical games have much more immediate stamina limits, for starters, in terms of time-spent comparisons. Thinking more about golf, that one has more of an economic limiter than basketball or video games. Perhaps there's a dangerous sweet spot that games are hitting - cheap enough that you don't have to work a ton, attractive enough that you don't want to. Which would result in a different discussion of if that's good or bad.

Either way, you still have a primarily-male competitive activity being a huge thing for older demographics, which is interesting. The "is it upbringing or nature" question around sports participation by gender is an old one, my hunch is that video games is just the modern version.

The 30-to-40 generation is in the middle; gaming for a while was a much more in-person thing pre-universal-internet-access. So that probably resulted in different habits as life more and more interrupted the ability to throw LAN parties together.

> Maybe young women just don't like video games?

Perhaps this can be a contributing factor as well. Problem is, I mentioned this in my original statement. Did you not see? Doesn't have to be either-or, you know.

>discover why older MEN seem to spend less time in these pursuits than younger men

Maybe they got jobs, had children, etc. Just speaking from experience. As an adult I have less time for games nowadays.

I haven't seen anyone claim that women and men play cod 50/50. The claim "many in the video game industry" had was that women play a lot more videogames of you count all videogames including candy crush and farmvile. Which is true. Women play games much more then CoD ratio of players would suggest.

You literally took the game with worst male female ratio and use it as general argument about who plays games in general.


> ...people like you are so fragile...

We don't treat other users like this on Hacker News. Please stop.

I think you are missing the class aspect to all of this. There is a huge amount of documented research of the impact of social class on jobs.

Most of society (men and women) doesn't exist at Harvard, and the top 500 companies.

There could easily be "anti middle/low class bias against males" from the upper classes. Which is a common theme in history, lower class men are slightly more disposable (war) then lower class woman.

I could easily see lower class men escaping into video games.

The glass ceiling is a real problem, but so is the glass floor. In a discussion about the bottom rung of society, the floor is more pertinent than the ceiling.

You're misrepresenting my statement... Increasingly anti-male != completely anti-male.

i'm not cherry-picking anything. the world is not becoming increasingly anti-male - the world is becoming increasingly egalitarian and those that profit by the status quo would like to frame it as attack rather than an equilibration.

If you can't find a job in this economy the problem is you, and if you're somehow demoralized out of the workforce by a perceived "anti-male" bias then you'd be an uncompetitive person in any environment.

That is a ridiculous thing to say - unless you're assuming that everyone is a techie. If some guy was shortsighted enough to major in something like psychology, he is very likely to face anti-male hiring bias when he's applying for a job in HR, for example. This should be obvious.

It's certainly not obvious. Can you support that with anything?

I can only speak from what I've personally observed and from what has happened to a few men I know. The gist of it is this: given a 'soft' role in a company, especially a tech company, those roles are in large part reserved for women. Consider a tech company - the people in the front lines will almost invariably be men. They were the ones who probably studied Computer Science or a comparable major in college, afterall. So from a diversity standpoint, almost all tech companies are stacked with men already - because they focus on tech and because the actual techies are almost entirely comprised of men. Then, when it comes to the softer roles in the company, such as HR/recruiting/administration, those roles will very largely be filled by women (who studied psychology, communications, english, or something similar). I suppose I can only speak about this as it applies to the tech industry, as that is what I'm familiar with. But tech is eating the world, so if it doesn't yet apply to some of the other industries, it soon will.

It isn't just the "soft" roles anymore...when I first started applying for positions I got absolutely nothing when I was applying as a male...I literally only changed my name/sex from Joe/male to Joanna/female, reapplied at all the same companies and within the week I heard back from each and every company...they don't want average males...preference is for women now...at least from my experience

Was this an experiment you ran out of desperation? When these companies responded to you (as 'Joanna'), did you proceed with the interview process?

> Was this an experiment you ran out of desperation?

Well, I wasn't getting any call-backs for a while, so kinda...I'd go check out the career pages and every single one of them had these various sections "women," "minorities," "veterans," etc...pretty much every category other than white guy from average state school that doesn't have rich parents or professional connections...then I clicked on one of the links and all it showed were "women in tech" and how much they supported women...all the pics on their website were of women...it was okay, I get it, you don't want/need any more white guys...I thought it would be funny to apply as a woman without changing a single thing on my resume other than the name...and lo and behold, I called emails/call-backs from every single company I had previously been rejected by...I'm not even kidding, same college, same professional experience, same extra-curricular activities...everything the same other than name/sex.

> When these companies responded to you (as 'Joanna'), did you proceed with the interview process?

I did not...if they were going to be sexist I had no desire to work for them at that point, plus it left such a sour taste in my mouth. I did find a company that wasn't sexist so I ended up going with them in the end.

You should write a longer post about this, perhaps on Medium, and share it. I think it's a topic worthy of more discussion

I'm not a wordsmith...

Plus, what would I write? It's kind of straightforward sexism.

1. White guy applies for job, no responses.

2. White guy reapplies and only changes name/sex to appear female, receives responses within the week.

3. End.

I could have also just changed my race and the experiment would have had the same results.

Glad to hear you found a company you liked in the end.

Thanks! The current role I'm in has me working on software that controls the electric grid...pretty cool stuff in my opinion, and it fits in nicely with my electrical trades background. Working mostly with C/Perl/Linux.

If you grant that, then getting a "hard" tech job should be similarly discouraging for women (many would argue it's often much more so). How does this add up to an "anti-male" society?

We're not talking about someone having a harder than average time finding a job, but about guys staying home playing videogames instead of working. I submit that if someone thinks anti male bias is the reason they're on the couch playing call of duty all day, they're mistaken.

In a time where millenials are deeply, structurally pushed down economically [1] Video games make a lot of economic sense to play as they're an incredibly inexpensive form of entertainment on a dollars per hour of entertainment basis.

1 - http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/poor-millenni...

It goes deeper than this but yes this is the right track.

The US is a wildly inequal society. Each year it becomes more and more inequal and the latest tax cuts are going to dramatically accelerate the rising inequality.

Such widespread inequality has powerful knock-on effects and these effects are converging on these young (likely rural) males. Everything from suppressed wages to supressed business formation to extraordinary economic rents (housing, healthcare) all come together to produce more losers and less (but richer) winners.

A propensity for video games is more a symptom than a cause imo.

If you look at the state of the modern American man, analyze trends and extrapolate forwards things are not looking good. The ratio of men:women in colleges is nearing 60/40. We are moving to a more service based economy which favors women. Lot's of folks are simply dropping out of the economy and are trending towards being strains on society.

I believe you must mean 40/60.

I suspect that ratio of men vs women in college does have something to do with ratio of men vs women reading and playing videogames. I knew people who did had worst result in school they could have, because they played a lot.

Video game industry traditionally targets women much less - and consequently it might cause women to play less and thus read more and do more homework.

There's this huge class of video games that feature: skill-building, leveling-up, acquisition, and when networked, involve team dynamics, assessing other's skill, leadership, earned respect, and a social hierarchy that's based on a meritocracy. Have these type of games become incredibly good over the last ten years? Yes. Have jobs / "the world" gotten less good at providing these rewarding type of experiences? I'm not sure.

A good example of this is the recently released game Monster Hunter: World. It features everything you mentioned.

Some players have spent an undeniably unhealthy amount of time in that game in just a few weeks. They boast "I'm High Rank 100 after only 200+ hours!" as if playing a video game for 15+ hours a day was something to be accomplished and proud of.

I feel sad for these individuals when they realize all that time was meaningless.

Someone would literally have to pay me to get me to play a game like that. It's literally like work. Except for some volunteer activities I don't work for free.

The world doesn't have to have gotten worse. It can simply not optimize for it. I doubt whoever tracks "young male labor engagement" is taken as seriously in their sphere as some game company's engagement czar. And it's for reasons that should be very familiar to HN users: in games, they're the customer, in the rest of the world, they're the product.

"Skill building" and "Leveling up" are nothing more than operant conditioning on a reward schedule. It's nothing more than a skinner box that has two rooms that you walk between with "level up" being the doorway you'd like to go through. No real work is being done, but the facade of work is enough to trick your brain into thinking it's accomplished something. That real effort could have been expended to do something that could actually benefit the organism, but no, it's wasted on an illusion.

Woah woah woah. I mean video games are a drop in the bucket of the conversation here.

WHO actually has 60 hours a week of leisure between the ages of 31-55?! How is that the average?

6am: wake. shower sometimes. 6:15am-7:45: take care of kids, eat breakfast, get dressed. 7:45-5:45: commute and work. 6-7: eat dinner 7-7:30: kids to bed. 7:30-8: cleanup house 8-10: maybe leisure, often home production. 10: bed.

Weekends have _at most_ 6 hours of leisure per day.

That works out to 22 hours, best case scenario.

I asked around the office. No one else is getting 60 hours.

Leisure is defined as all non-working hours ("non-market time" in the paper). Household chores, taking care of kids, etc. is all considered leisure hour activity in economic data.

In this analysis, the researchers include 7 hours per day to sleeping/eating: "We include a sub-set of time spent on eating, sleeping, and personal care (ESP) in leisure. In particular, we treat 7 hours per day as non-discretionary ESP, and the residual as leisure."

So they're really looking at the breakdown between labor and everything else in an average 17 hour day.


> I asked around the office. No one else is getting 60 hours.

Sounds like significant sampling bias right there. US prime age employment rate (25-54 years old) is 78% (which counts part time employees). I'd guess that the 22% you didn't interview, and the part time employees (who likely don't work in an office) are far less busy.

You can afford kids at 31 these days?? Sign me up for one of those paycheques!

Kidding aside, for a 31-year old without children my time is consumed differently, but consumed mostly the same.

6 AM wake, workout 7:30 AM Make/eat breakfast, clean, get dressed 9 AM - 6/7 PM commute and work 67PM make/eat dinner 7/8PM - 10/11PM chores and home prod and/or more workout 11PM/12AM bed

and I'm usually behind on chores because I commit to other work/learning so as not to stagnate

Most days, anyway. We certainly have a little more flexibility without kids... but every year that passes before one could responsibly take that on...

no kids, work less, eat fast food, be sloppy

Not saying its a great lifestyle but easily get to 60 hours.

>Weekends have _at most_ 6 hours of leisure per day.


Mow the lawn, do laundry, clean the house, maybe maintenance on a vehicle with a trip to the dealership or self-work, rake leaves, take the kids to sports practice, run errands, pay bills, do taxes, deal with family problems, deal with being sick or having a child that is sick, fix a broken sink, pick your husband up at the airport an hour drive each way, fix the garage door motor that has been acting up, help your son improve at math by working with him for hours on it over the weekend, and approximately 807 other things that need to get done at some point with weekends being ideal.

Simplify life? Oh, sure.

I think that younger men are going into video games because computers have made us so productive that we don’t need as much as a labor supply anymore. We have seen a drop of labor participation for men since the 60s which is invariant under any economic conditions .

People forget that to disrupt an industry someone loses and it appears we can see some of this in the male labor participation rate .

Since women have unfortunately had restrictions on their ability to be employed that information could have been lost.

That is very much addressed in the content of this paper. from the introduction

> An obvious candidate for this decline in younger men’s hours is a decline in demand for their labor, resulting in a corresponding reduction in their real wages. There is evidence that declining demand for manufacturing and routine employment has contributed to a secular decline in wages and employment rates for less educated workers.2 However, we show in the next section that real wages of younger men have closely tracked those of their older counterparts since 2000. This suggests that the greater decline in younger men’s hours is not readily explained by a differential decline in labor demand for younger versus older men.

I’ve been noticing a number of similar articles on HN recently. Exploring why men aren’t interested in working seems to be in vogue.

Personally, I fit into this group to a degree (I'm almost 40 -- not the same age group really). That said, I'm all about working.

I just hate office life anymore. "Jobs" are passe, IMO. I'm burned out on it after 25 years, countless lines of code, and hours of effort having been expropriated from me. I'm tired of how hard it is to change specialties; not because I'm not smart enough, but because I don't have the time because I'm expected to fucking work all the time.

I've had a few payouts from tech, but nothing to retire on for life. There's a serious inequity in working at an office when I've doing 40+ wks for years, struggled to get by a lot it, but the guy one level up the org char rolls in with his new Vette.

Women seem to find it novel, since they haven't historically had access. So let em at it.

Do we NEED this many people "working" on whatever the "free market" demands (which is usually just code for "within the highly moderated financial system").

I doubt it. IMO, the only economic output that society as a whole should be concerned with is education, healthcare, and the infra that enables those efforts.

The rest is a farce. Consumption driven avarice.

Well, those guys can always marry and opt out. Oh, wait no they cant..

At least they do not destroy the environment, producing something that has no real value, speeding up a society heading for a crash.

I'll venture a guess: We've been talking about rights for so long, as a nation, that we forgot to discuss responsibility.

The major media and political narratives are focusing on the rights of women, the rights of trans folks, the rights of minorities, and the rights of immigrants. They are all well and good, but we should equally talk about the responsibility of our well-represented young white males to bear up under some responsibility and push themselves to improve their country. Responsibility to provide and protect is a very masculine idea, and if we fed ourselves an equal diet of responsibility as we do rights & freedoms, the young men of today might be a lot more energetic and engaged.

I also venture that it has something to do with the sharp rise in atheism. Christianity espouses responsibility. Carry your cross and accept suffering without malice. Atheism says that the world is meaningless, we were created from entropy. One of those belief systems might work better for getting young guys out of the house!

> I also venture that it has something to do with the sharp rise in atheism. Christianity espouses responsibility. Carry your cross and accept suffering without malice. Atheism says that the world is meaningless, we were created from entropy. One of those belief systems might work better for getting young guys out of the house!

Build up atheist straw men much? You know what you know if I tell you I am an atheist? You only know I lack belief in deities (likely yours, whatever they may be, but no different than another deist in that they lack believe in all the other dieties as you, but they believe in N that you don't). Thats it, it doesn't tell you anything about what I find meaningless or meaningful, or that we believe we were created from entropy. That is pure projection on your part, and entirely without merit.

Sure it has merit to say that, generally speaking, Christianity espouses responsibility and atheism does not. Where are the tracts of Atheist values and dogma that carry a deep message of responsibility? Point me to _any_ symbolic representation of central atheist values - There is nothing. To be atheist is to be not associated with any belief system, and without any coherence among atheists, I can't say anything about atheists in general, but I certainly cannot say that they all think the world has a deep meaning that they're directly involved in.

So basically you're saying that as an atheist I have no idea what you're up to... Right, because you're not up to _anything_ that other atheists are up to. You're a heterogeneous mix of feelings and ideas that are mostly based in Western values but are held together loosely. I can look at a devout Christian and know that he's guided by his faith to taking up hard tasks and completing them diligently as part of his commitment to his faith.

> Sure it has merit to say that, generally speaking, Christianity espouses responsibility and atheism does not.

How can a lack of belief espouse anything? Atheism isn't a religion. The rest of your post seems to lack that fundamental understanding.

> I certainly cannot say that they all think the world has a deep meaning that they're directly involved in.

You also can't claim the converse, as noted atheism is a lack in belief systems, not a belief system unto itself. You're attacking straw men versions of atheists. Its like asking how many amps a battery has, or how many miles of work you can get from a gallon of gas. Without context the statements make no coherent sense.

I know you don't understand me but I'm basically saying that there is a religion that espouses responsibility, that has ancient relevance to the human race.

Then there is atheism which basically means follow nothing, do what you wish, which might mean that you're a great person nonetheless.

Atheism is a category. Aka those without diety is the literal definition.

Just as it would be wrong of me to say "All deists believe in the same god, that is why they don't take belief in different dieties seriously", its wrong to attach belief in responsibiliity to a category like atheism.

An example of the disparate groups that qualify as atheists: - Antitheists - Nihilists - Some Agnostics - Some Buddhists - Some Stoics


How you arrive at "atheism which basically means follow nothing" being attached to a category is beyond my ability to understand.

Oh my god dude... it's simple, you believe in responsibility or you do not believe in it.

This is stepping into the territory of ideological battle. Could you please pull back?

My bad, I've been trying to elucidate that atheism is a category and not a belief system unto itself in this subthread. Though poorly it would seem. If anyone has ideas of how one could better engage in that endeavour in the future I'm all ears.

I'll stop posting on such things here in general, just annoying when at category has things attached to it that are mostly non sequitur. Like saying auto mechanics don't believe in running or something, its a weird thing to do.

The improvements that our country needs are broad structural improvements that prepare us for where we are and where we're going. The idea of "bear your cross and accept suffering without malice" makes sense, but it also tends towards championing individuals as both causes of their problems and the ones capable of solving them. It IS a great philosophy when there is some meaning to your suffering, when your cross is something you want to carry, but these days that philosophy ends up sounding like "shut up and get a job" in an rapdily changing era where we have to rethink our basic societal organization and our attitudes towards work. It's an attitude that reinforces ones adherence to the status quo rather than recognizing that what worked for our parents doesn't necessarily work for us.

Well the problem is that you think you somehow know how to adjust the status quo correctly in order to properly set up your nation for the rest of the 21st century. But the reality is that you have no idea, probably because you're a programmer, but also because you have not borne up the responsibility of acquiring deep knowledge of policy, government, social science and everything else required to make those calls. You say we need broad structural improvements - and what are those, exactly? And how are they going to provide a utopia to us that is better than the one we currently have, where most people can work their way into a mid to high paying career and raise their families in almost complete safety for decades and decades to come?

The truth is that it's easy to say something needs improvement, but it's not easy to take the 10 years studying the problem to deeply understand the solution, and even a partial understanding of possible workable solutions is something neither of us have, because we're spending our week nights wasting time in one way or another instead of paying sharp, _sharp_ attention to the studies and data collected now and in the past to broaden and deepen our insights.

Also you mention that my advice boils down to "shut up and get a job" which is really fantastic advice for most people, because even getting a job carrying 2x4s up scaffolding all day would be so damn tough and tiring that you'd come out of it healthier, persistent, and basically a terminator capable of any hard, physical labour. A good skill! And that skill carries with it an appreciation of the physically gentle computer work we all do, thus making your future tech career more enjoyable.

I think I've made a pretty good counter argument here but feel free to rebuke it.

I don't know, that's why the point is relevant. Were I to know then that would be my cross to bear and I could work towards that. I don't know where you live, but where I live I'm seeing a steady decline in quality of life and increased mental health problems in youth mainly related to anxiety about their future. A high paying career isn't a question of simply working hard for them, not is it available to all them. Many of them live with the risk of dipping into poverty at any moment and their safety nets have been chipped away over the years to be ineffective. They don't see a clear path to home ownership and many of them are straddled with debt for a degree that they now find out isn't particularly useful. They are in all cases set up to have worse lives than their parents. Aside from that they live with the looming specter of environmental disaster and political structures unable to effectively deal with the problems of the future. It isn't a question of wanting to change things so much as recognizing that things cannot continue as they've been. I'm not saying people shouldn't be getting jobs and pursuing economic stability, but that we have to be willing to rethink those systems to be sustainable.

Situation is bad, what to do? Work to change it. Criticism without means to enact improvements is meaningless. Then let these weak men suffer and wither. Harder working men will prevail

You would think that we might one day get past this whole "strong vs weak" rhetoric, but therein lies the problem: we exit from the state of nature only to recreate those same conditions in a slightly more civil form.

> "We calculate that innovations to gaming/recreational computing since 2004 explain on the order of half the increase in leisure for younger men."

And the other half is explained by the ready availability of free porn.

Interesting. What effects might result from young men spending less time working?

They have less income to spend. This has mostly negative consequences. Lower economic stimulation is the most obvious. Of course, less income means other things too. Young men are living at home with their parents for longer, or in flophouse conditions. At least in the US, this is not a desirable quality to most females, meaning they are getting married later if at all. This means less children, which could mean a demographic crisis depending on which camp you believe. Also these people could be an eventual drain on society as they get older or retire.

Then again, depending on whether men worked too much or too little before, it could mean better work life balance. Unless you believe the proper amount of time to work is "all the time", there will be a point where people work a bit less and it is not end of world.

Its seems like they are dropping out of society for some reason. We probably need to go back and look at why people decide to work in the first place. What the incentives were and how they changed. Most people aren't working because work is fun, they work because they want the money for some goals like food, housing, families.

Less taxes collected.

If only everyone had the luxury of time. Universal basic income FTW.

Someone still has to plant, grow and harvest the crops to make the food you eat. Someone still has to ensure the sewers work, the garbage is picked up etc. Most necessary jobs will not be done by robots for decades if ever. And they certainly wouldn't be done by humans for "funzies" until then.

In a fantasy world of perfect human virtue perhaps basic income will work, or maybe once Skynet becomes self aware. But it's a pipe dream on any kind of meaningful scale.

We could still pay people to do those jobs. We just might have to pay more for less desirable jobs, instead of what we seem to have now--the worst jobs are also the worst paid.

UBI could make such social problems better, but I think it will probably make them worse: https://medium.com/@simon.sarris/after-universal-basic-incom...

I don't think most people would know what to do without work. It'd probably be worse for their mental health than working a bad job.

Hand wringing about perceived weak virtues of the youth. I expect an article referencing this in the new york times style section within the week.

Presented with data that youth today are falling behind in traditional markers for success, and you're response is mockery?

These are young adults who are not accomplishing anything with their time and will have little to show for their time when older. This is a serious social illness worthy of study.

It's interesting to note which social science papers hacker news decides to treat with reverence vs skepticism.

It's not a coincidence that a website which treats economic success as the apex cultural trait would cling to a study that validates their own feelings.

The startup narrative is a nasty one. If you don't see the economic results you expected it's easy to look outward and try to rationalize why video game playing losers seem to be content or indifferent while you struggle to solve the Big Problems only to be met with mediocre success.

The lack of introspection and wholesale othering that leads to completely subjective statements such as: people who play video games are "not accomplishing anything with their time" and they "will have little to show for their time when their older" - are worse than depressing, they're the seeds of resentment, anger and aggression. Ironically it's this irrational hatred that's a social illness worthy of study.

I think you missed your mark by some ways. There's a mountain of options in between toiling away 80 hours a week on a startup and living in your parent's basement playing video games. Economic success is the measure of how people are able to provide for themselves and those they care about. Families cost money, houses cost money, living costs money. Someone has to provide the things people consume to live, and they don't want to be slaves to a basement dwelling slacker. If they want to do anything with their lives, and we all do if we want to have good mental health, they'll find a career, be it in startups or working their way up at the local supermarket.

The startup is a representation of social virtue, not just working but doing it independently and in service of personal goals. It's something people on this site deeply value. Work for people here is who you are. They don't get that's not true for everyone else. Worse than that, they want to pretend that's not true and prescribe a solution.

In regards to the rest of your comment: Do these economic dropouts want families? Do they want houses? What exactly are their lifestyle expectations and why exactly are they wrong?

The projection of deeply personal values not just in your comment but in this thread are breathtaking. The inability to see that just because you want something must mean that that's true for other human beings is disturbingly common here.

Why are people so concerned and threatened by people they consider to be losers? That's not a rhetorical question. Are you afraid these people are going to ruin your lifestyle by doing.....nothing? If they're happy and they have close to zero impact on your life why exactly are they scapegoats for so much wrong in the world? And before you say "well they're not happy", many of the examples of unhappy "basement dwellers" in this thread are described as people close to suicidal because they want to live one way but society says their expectations should be another. It's all such a big mess and I really feel for these kids calling into suicide hotlines over thinking they're failures by some bullshit external standard.

Not sure I buy a xbone one as a leisure luxury playing polo, skiing or a season ticket to Man U id agree.

My observation is that teens are taking jobs that were previously done by undocumented immigrants who have left due to the current political climate. I expect immigration policy could be more closely correlated with young men's labor than video games.

Well let's get right to the facts.

Fact: the US is not losing undocumented / illegal immigrants at an abnormally high rate. That's a myth. Trump has hardly moved the needle at all when it comes to illegal immigration. Everything to the contrary is propaganda pushed by the media for pathetic political points / ratings.

Obama deported more people in an average year than Trump has in his first year. He was known in immigration circles as the deporter in chief for it.


"Illegal immigration on border surges back to Obama levels"


Those are relevant facts but they leave out immigrants who are leaving voluntarily. I couldn't find anything within the last 6 months but there was recently a net outflow of undocumented immigrants [0]



That's a pretty bold assertion - what are you basing that on? It seems that while there are certainly fields where different genders dominate, how you define "service industry" is going to really skew your views on this. And to state that any differences must be due to sexism alone seems unfounded.


Please don't post flamebait on divisive topics. If you'd read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and take the site rules to heart when commenting here, we'd appreciate it.

Someone linked me to this roughly a year ago, and it seemed like the most obvious example of correlation != causation. I'm not sure how it got published, really.

This article is from July 2017. It did not existed a year ago.

Here's an older version dated September 15, 2016 (which is 1 year, 5 months ago):


Uh-oh. This is the kind of thing the popular fakenuz press reads, misunderstands, and turns into bogus headlines like "All millenials are slackers."

I don’t think that it’s that they misunderstand.

I think that it’s because they make more money by making it divisive and emotion driven.

This is pointing out that young men are spending more time on the computer, particularly playing games. Obviously because online games have gotten much better in the last 15 years. If people choose to spend more time doing a thing because it is more compelling that is not bad.

I wouldn't assume that was the only cause. It could be that online games are more addicting (they are), or maybe that they're using it as a tool to cope with depression (I definitely know people that do).

Just because people choose to spend more time drinking, doesn't mean it's not bad. They could just be turning into alcoholics.

The narrative of coping with depression by playing video games seems reasonable but the data in the paper seem to show that there was an uptick in self-reported happiness in the segment playing the most games. That seemed to read to me as, crudely, "games make you happy and lazy" (namely they lower workforce participation). Happy to hear of a better way to read the data.

"Obviously because online games have gotten much better in the last 15 years."

I don't see how that's self-evident at all.

I'd suspect it has more to do with social desolation.

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