Men Without Work Forum at the Harvard Kennedy School

The Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School hosted a Forum event on Wednesday, April 26 called Men Without Work, which highlighted the two generation decline of work for American men. The Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business & Government (M-RCBG) co-hosted the event. M-RCBG Director Lawrence H. Summers led the discussion between Men Without Work author Nicholas Eberstadt and former Council of Economic Advisers Chairman (CEA) Jason Furman. Furman was recently named Professor of the Practice of Economic Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and will be an M-RCBG faculty affiliate.

The New York Times called Eberstadt’s book “an unsettling portrait not just of male unemployment, but also of lives deeply alienated from civil society.” Furman, in his role at CEA, did extensive research and analysis of how the share of American men between the ages of 25 and 54, or “prime-age men,” in the labor force has been declining for more than sixty years. Furman’s research found that joblessness is linked to worse economic prospects in the future, lower overall well-being and happiness, and higher mortality, as well as negative consequences for families and communities. “Self-esteem and dignity depend on having a job,” Furman said at the event.  

Summers noted the fraction of men working in US is much lower than Western Europe. And Eberstadt pointed out that “75% of men who lack a high school degree claim some type of disability insurance.”

Furman discussed the institutional barriers that contribute to this phenomena, along with labor force supply and demand challenges. “People get more stuck in a labor market with less fluidity,” he said.

The Forum discussion also focused on solutions. Furman pointed out the need for more education and criminal justice reform and also suggested infrastructure investments and expanding subsidies for work might be helpful.

Of Furman’s M-RCBG faculty affiliation, Summers said "Jason's knowledge, seriousness of purpose and commitment to analysis is a national treasure [and] he will be a wonderful addition to the Harvard faculty…approaches like Jason's are particularly scarce in our national life."

After the Forum, Jason commented, “I am thrilled to be returning to Harvard because the Kennedy School will keep me attached to the major public policy issues of the day while allowing me to step back and think harder about the causes and solutions to our major economic challenges."

Furman’s appointment begins on July 1.

Additional information:
To watch the event, click here.
To read the press release on Furman’s appointment, click here.  
News coverage of the event in the Harvard Crimson.
Larry Summers’ blog post on Men Without Work.





Men Without Work Forum Event, April 26, 2017

Jason Furman, current M-RCBG faculty affliliate and former chair, Council of Economic Advisers (2013-2017)