The puzzle is why America’s less-skilled men have been hit harder of late. One possibility is that American capitalism is especially competitive, spurring faster innovation than in other countries and more ruthless cost-cutting in hard times. Thus in the past 15 years low-productivity jobs have been swept away more quickly in America than elsewhere and the recent recession had a far greater impact on employment in America than in Europe.
A second explanation is that American men have let their schooling slide. Those aged between 25 and 34 are less likely to have a degree than 45- to 54-year-olds. As David Autor of MIT points out, they are also less likely to have completed college than their contemporaries in Britain, Denmark, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain. In recent years America’s university graduation rates have slipped from near the top of the world league to the middle. Men are far likelier than women to drop out. Their record at school is bad too. This educational decline has a racial edge. Black and Hispanic boys are far less likely to graduate from high school than white or Asian youths. A smaller fraction starts college and a larger fraction drops out.
Poor educational performance also interacts perniciously with America’s habit of imprisoning large numbers of young black men. Harry Holzer, an economist at the Urban Institute, a think-tank, points out that one black man in three spends some time in prison; for those without a high-school diploma, the rate is two in three. As Mr Bradley’s tale illustrates, once you have been in jail, finding a job becomes far harder. [bron]
Het lijkt een neerwaartse spiraal waaruit ontsnapping voor onrendabelen, zeker zij die opgroeien in een cultuur van werkeloosheid en criminaliteit, bijzonder moeilijk is. Is dit ons voorland?