Understanding Men’s Nonemployment Using Longitudinal Data: Wage Opportunities, Employment Dynamics, and Long-Term Effects

Ann H. Stevens , University of California, Davis

Declining employment rates among prime-aged men in the United States continues to be one of the chief threats to the health of the labor market and economy. Recent debates have centered around distinguishing cyclical factors from longer term trends, and on documenting the role of specific demand shocks versus other factors. These findings, however, have been based entirely on repeated cross-sectional data, potentially limiting our understanding of how men respond in the longer-term to reduced wages. My proposed research will use longitudinal data and cohort analysis to examine the relationship between non-employment and the subsequent employment and well-being of prime-aged men. Preliminary work shows that wages of men who return to the labor force after more than 12 months out are far below those typically imputed to them in past work. This suggests that approaches based on cross-sectional data may significantly understate the role of low wages in non-participation.

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 Presented in Session 105. Short- and Long-Run Effects of Unemployment on Workers and Their Children