by Mark Mather, associate vice president, Domestic Programs
In the U.K., they are called NEETS, people who are “Not in Employment, Education, or Training.” In Spain and Mexico, they have been called Generation Neither-Nor. We have them in the United States too, and their numbers have increased since the onset of the recession—especially among men. A new report by PRB shows that the percent of young men ages 25 to 34 who are neither working nor attending school increased sharply between 2007 and 2010, from 14 percent to 19 percent. During the same period, the share of women who were not working and not in school remained steady at 26 percent. Part of this gender difference can be explained by women’s earlier age at marriage, compared with men.
Percent Distribution of Young Adults Ages 25-34 by School Enrollment and Employment
Status, 2007 and 2010
|Men (%)||Women (%)|
|School Enrollment, Employment Status||2007||2010||2007||2010|
|In school, working||8||8||10||10|
|In school, not working||3||4||4||5|
|Not in school, working||75||69||61||58|
|Not in school, not working||14||19||26||26|
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey.
The declining economic prospects of young men has several potential implications for U.S. society—beyond higher poverty and lower economic productivity—including:
- Further declines in marriage and childbearing, as young men postpone family formation until their economic prospects improve.
- More young men living with their parents well into their 30s, as evident from recent Current Population Survey data.
- A smaller pool of “marriageable men” due to chronic unemployment and lower earnings capacity of young men, combined with more women attending college and entering the workforce.
- Poorer health and development outcomes for children, as more births occur outside of marriage.
- Greater income inequality across generations and worse outcomes for racial/ethnic minorities, who are most concentrated in younger age groups.
Some of these trends may reverse once the economy improves, but it would likely take years to elicit significant changes in the marriage and family patterns of what many are calling the “lost generation.”