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Lawrence H. Summers


Sep 21

5 tweets

Nick Eberstadt's book, Men Without Work, is a searing indictment of contemporary America. It convinces me that economics cannot explain why 1 in 7 prime age men 25 to 54 are not working today amidst a massive labor shortage. Watch our discussion @American Enterprise Institute:

Most of those not working say they don’t want to work; there are two vacancies for every unemployed person; all countries have structural change but the US stands out. Demand side economics won’t fix this problem.

My reading of the data is that increased transfer payments cannot explain the big rise in non work. There are today too few beneficiaries receiving too little for this to be the largest part of the story.

There is some social phenomenon which I suspect explains non work, non marriage, deaths of despair, general alienation and, I suspect, the rise of reactionary populism. It should be a major task of social science to understand it.

Despite having lots of data and numbers, Eberstadt's book deserves a very wide audience.

Lawrence H. Summers


Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard. Secretary of the Treasury for President Clinton and Director of NEC for President Obama

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