NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 5, 2008

The traditional markers of manhood -- leaving home, getting an education, starting a family and starting work -- have moved downfield as the passage from adolescence to adulthood has evolved, says Michael Kimmel, author of "Guyland."  For instance, in 1960, almost 70 percent of men had reached these milestones by the age of 30; today, less than a third of males can say the same.

But a bad attitude about marriage is not the only thing holding young males back.  A series of social and economic reversals are making it harder than ever to reach "adulthood," says Kimmel:

  • Since 1971, annual salaries for males 25 to 34 with full-time jobs have plummeted almost 20 percent.
  • At the same time, in urban centers, women are showing signs of outpacing their husbands and boyfriends as breadwinners and heads of family.
  • Last year, women between 21 and 30 in at least five major cities, including Dallas, Chicago and New York, have not only made up the wage gap - they earn upwards of 15 percent more than their male counterparts.

As a result, today\'s men are perhaps the first downwardly mobile generation of men in U.S. history, says Newsweek:

  • Men between 16 and 26 have the highest suicide rate for any group except men above 70.
  • Men in their 20s are less likely to read a newspaper, attend church, vote for the president or believe that people are basically trustworthy, helpful and fair.
  • Nearly 20 percent of 26 year-olds live at home.
  • Almost 20 percent of college guys said they would commit rape if they knew they wouldn\'t be caught.

However, the angst associated with adulthood may not be warranted.  Recent studies suggest that married men are happier, more sexually satisfied, earn more, are more quickly promoted and are more likely to own a home, adds Kimmel.

Source: Tony Dokoupil, "Why I Am Leaving Guyland," Newsweek, September 8, 2008; based upon: Michael Kimmel, "Guyland," HarperCollins, 2008.


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