Why are less-than-college-educated White men in the US so much less happy and more desperate than their international counterparts? In episode 49, Carol Graham from the Brookings Institution and the University of Maryland talks with us about her research into why younger out-of-work men in the United States are so unhappy compared to their counterparts in other places around the world who are arguably struggling much more. Her open-access report, co-authored with Sergio Pinto, “Men without work: Why are they so unhappy in the US compared to other places?” (full PDF) was published on February 12, 2019 by the Brookings Institution.


Men Without Work - Carol Graham
Men Without Work - Carol Graham
Men Without Work - Carol Graham Men Without Work - Carol Graham
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Hosts / Producers

Ryan Watkins & Doug Leigh

How to Cite

Watkins, R., Leigh, D., & Graham, C.. (2019, May 14). Parsing Science – Men Without Work. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.8135117


What’s The Angle? by Shane Ivers


Carol Graham: Why are less college-educated whites in the US so much less resilient, less happy, angry, frustrated, desperate than say poor minorities?

Ryan Watkins: This is Parsing Science. The unpublished stories behind the world’s most compelling science as told by the researchers themselves. I’m Ryan Watkins…

Doug Leigh: And I’m Doug Leigh. Today, in episode 49 of Parsing Science, we’re joined by Carol Graham from the Brookings Institution and the University of Maryland. She’ll talk with us about her research into why younger out-of-work men in the United States are so unhappy, especially compared with other places in the world where their counterparts are arguably struggling much more. Here is Carol Graham.

Graham: Hello! I’m Carol Graham. I started my career by accident right out of Princeton as a research assistant at Brookings, and loved the place, and realized that I wanted to be a Brookings scholar at that point, but that I didn’t want to do somebody else’s research. And so I went on and did a PhD in Oxford and I came back on a dissertation fellowship, and sat at Brookings again. And then I came back on a MacArthur writing fellowship after teaching for a year and then, you know, did a couple other things, and then came back as a senior fellow. My own work focuses in two areas: one is the welfare effects of macro and institutional arrangements that individuals can’t change. So think about bad governance, or you’re a poor peasant in Bolivia who’s made unhappy by inequality. Well, How do you reveal a preference, right? So how do institutional arrangements affect individual welfare? And, you know, we can assess that. The other area I’m particularly interested in is behaviors that are not driven by optimal choices, but instead by norms, addiction, or self-control problems. You know, somebody in a lower caste in India who doesn’t send their kid to school, I mean, is that really a revealed preference or is it a lack of choice because of a very strong discriminatory norm? But we can observe the welfare effects of that lack of choice. And then things like why are smokers less happier than non-smokers? You know, if it was a revealed preference in the standard method they should be happier, but they’re not. Why are obese people less happy than non-obese people? This isn’t, you know, optimizing consumption, there’s something else going on.

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