Must-Read: Justin Fox broadcasts a smart point from Nick Eberstadt:

Justin Fox: Out of Prison, Out of Work:

The percentage of [prime-aged male] NILFs has risen since the 1970s all over the developed world...

...But the trajectory has been much steeper in the U.S. than in other rich countries.... Eberstadt... comes up with a surprisingly simple answer:

A single variable -- having a criminal record -- is a key missing piece in explaining why work rates and LFPRs [labor-force participation rates] have collapsed much more dramatically in America than other affluent Western societies over the past two generations. This single variable also helps explain why the collapse has been so much greater for American men than women and why it has been so much more dramatic for African American men and men with low educational attainment than for other prime-age men in the United States....

Eberstadt cites an unpublished study that estimates that 12 percent of the adult male civilian non-institutional population... has been convicted of a felony, and figures the percentage must be even higher for prime-age men given that the "incarceration explosion" didn't start till the 1970s.... Job displacement by technology is probably unstoppable, but how we punish crime is a public-policy choice. Incarceration rates have already been falling with the big declines in crime since the early 1990s, and the past few years have seen the growth of a bipartisan consensus (interrupted by the current presidential campaign, to be sure) that the U.S. throws too many people in prison for too long and doesn't do nearly enough to rehabilitate them. Prison and sentencing reform might actually be the country's best shot at thwarting that "linear trend" that would put a quarter of prime-age men out of work by 2050.

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