Why working class boys and men are struggling

In middle and working-class families, “it’s the boys who are struggling at school, the men who are struggling at work and the fathers who are struggling to remain in touch with their kids,” says author Richard Reeves.


Men in America and around the world have created our institutions and systems of government. They have mostly built the social structures by which we function — having had an outsized influence in the way that we live, thrive and also struggle. Men are disproportionately in power, both at home, in the workplace and in our politics.

But none of this necessarily means that boys and men — particularly in America, as well as those who are Black and working class — are doing well. In fact, by many measures, they are struggling.

Boys and men are more likely to commit suicide than girls and women. They are less likely to get a college education, secure a middle class job, and are more likely to struggle to maintain friendships.

“In middle class families, men are making no bigger contribution today to those households than they were 50 years ago.” — Richard Reeves, author

Listen: Why working and middle class boys and men are struggling along lines of education, health and work.



Richard Reeves is a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution and author of “Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male is Struggling, Why it Matters, and What to Do about It.” His research focuses on boys and men, inequality and social mobility.

Reeves says the only gains from middle class families in America since 1979 have come from women working and earning more.

“In middle class families, men are actually making no bigger contribution today to those households than they were 50 years ago,” says Reeves.

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