Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Inequality Update: Men and Education

Felix Salmon showcases another spine-tingling chart on the increase in inequality. Felix highlights the particularly invidious effect on men, but I'm just as impressed with the parlous state of those with low education. Put them together and you've got a situation that is unwholesome in the extreme. No society has ever fared well with a large free-floating population of surplus males, particularly not if they are young and (at least reasonably) healthy.

In my day--the 1950s--there were alternatives of sort. You could join the Army. You could go into the mills and do piecework for $35 (sounded like pretty heavy sugar to a high school kid). These days, you can deal drugs. You can turn yourself into a skinhead. You can stay drunk (these alternatives are not exclusive).

And they are not inevitable. Male life expectancy in Russia is actually creeping back up (after bottoming out in the 90s at around 58). In Dresden, the response to a skinhead epidemic has been to fight back. And drug gangs. Well, drug gangs...

I may be silly to treat Felix's numbers as news. Testosterone poisoned young males are always and everywhere a social problem. In some times and places, they are easier to deal with than others. But a precipitous drop in (legal) income cannot help.

1 comment:

Steven Riddle said...

Dear Blogkeeper,

Indeed, your point made poignantly by Anthony Burgess in _A Clockwork Orange_ and perhaps more stringently and chillingly by Stanley Kubrick's film of same. The trends do not reverse easily and in the absence of a major conflict to soak up all the hormonal excess (not that I desire one) you are right in your evaluation here.