Free Market Fundamentalist Opinion

American Men Are Falling Behind — And That Should Worry Women, Too

When they are raised by single mothers and educated in a feminine environment, boys tend to underperform.

Kay S. Hymowitz writes in City Journal that social immobility in the United States — which is among the highest in the developed world — actually reflect a gender imbalance. Women are doing fine. It’s men who have fallen behind.

Finnish economist Markus Jäntti and his colleagues at the Institute for the Study of Labor in Bonn, Germany found that American girls are far more likely than those in other developed nations to climb up the income ladder. “Almost 75 percent of American daughters escape the lowest quintile,” writes Hymowitz. The rate is similar in Scandinavian countries and the United Kingdom. “Fewer than 60 percent of American sons experience similar success.”

One reason is that boys in the United States consistently underperform in school compared to girls. A likely reason for that is that relatively more children in the United States grow up without a father than is the case in most European nations. 83 percent of American families in the lowest income quintile is headed by a single mother.

The left tends to assume this can be addressed with policies that support single mothers, such as maternity leave and day care. Yet the link between fatherlessness and underperformance among boys holds even in European countries that provide all that. It’s the fact that boys grow up without a role model and the stability only a two parent home can provide that causes them to lag behind.

Schools are also less well attuned to boys’ needs. They have come to schedule less time for sports and typically don’t assign much “masculine” literature boys want to read — when they have greater difficulty learning to read than girls do.

It’s a trend psychologist Helen Smith also observed in her book Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood and the American Dream — and Why It Matters (2013). She pointed out that boys and girls learn differently while the education system favors cooperation and discussion, skills that naturally suit women, over competition, which better fits men.

As a consequence, Smith warned, boys are giving up on higher education which makes them not only less likely to advance in an information economy but also less suitable to marry and raise children, thus perpetuating the cycle that disadvantages men.

In the end, it disadvantages women too, writes Camille Paglia in Time magazine. “When an educated culture routinely denigrates masculinity and manhood, then women will be perpetually stuck with boys, who have no incentive to mature or to honor their commitments. And without strong men as models to either embrace or (for dissident lesbians) to resist,” she argues, “women will never attain a centered and profound sense of themselves as women.”