Throughout history, we have thought of our young men as restless, healthy, and built for activity. Words like driven, hard-charging, and adventurous come to mind.
The possibilities for young men are endless. They can bear the yoke in their youth and lay the foundation for the rest of their lives. They can marry, have children, and provide for a family and for others — or at least get the training, education, and experience that will enable them to provide.
We are eager to see young men exert energy because we all know what happens when you put testosterone together with capacity to work for the kingdom. And we also know what happens when you mix the same testosterone and capacity with idleness. The ancient saying proves true: “the devil finds work for idle hands.”
Single, Childless, Idle
Picture this: one in five less-educated young men are not working and not seeking marriage, and they seem happy about it. No one wants to see that, but we’re looking at it. According to University of Chicago economist Erik Hurst, young men between the ages of 21 and 30 without a college degree worked far fewer hours in 2015 than in 2000, and in 2015, eighteen percent of these men reported not working in the last year (up from eight percent in 2000).
Hurst describes this as almost one-fifth of the population simply being idle: not in school and not working. Seventy percent of these young men live with their parents (up from fifty percent in 2000). These young men are not married, not having kids, and not earning an income. They are young, single, childless, and idle.
What, then, are these young men doing with their lives? According to Hurst, they are playing video games. Leisure time, largely spent playing games on computers and consoles, doubled from the early 2000s to 2015.
When Hurst relayed these statistics to Econtalk Podcast host Russ Roberts, Roberts could scarcely believe the numbers or accept the idea that so many young men would choose to live with their parents, and not work, so that they could play video games.
In response to the incredulity of Roberts, Hurst pointed to “happiness data,” which indicates that the reported life satisfaction of these “less educated young men” has gone up.
These guys are not married, not working, playing video games in mom’s basement, and loving it.