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Millennial Men Choose Video Games Over Jobs    

  By: Katie Petrick
   Published : October 31, 2017

The American workforce may be shrinking, and it is not for a lack of employment opportunities. As a result of lower prices and enhanced technology, video games are simply becoming a better option for how to spend one’s time—specifically young men’s time.

According to research published in the September 2017 issue of National Bureau of Economic Research Digest, between 2000 through 2015, the “average hours of work for men ages 21-30 fell by 203 hours per year.” This equates to a 12 percent decline over the time period. Excluding those who are full-time students, nearly 15 percent of men in their twenties did not work a single week all of 2015. That number is almost double what it was at the turn of the century.

Research by Mark Aguiar, Mark Bils, Kerwin Kofi Charles, and Erik Hurst finds that young, able-bodied men are simply staying home and filling the extra hours with leisure activities, at much greater rates than young women or older men.

“Moreover, we calculate that innovations to gaming/recreational computing since 2004 explain on the order of half the increase in leisure for younger men, and predict a decline in market hours of 1.5 to 3.0 percent, which is 38 and 79 percent of the differential decline relative to older men.”

In layman’s terms, millennial men are gaming, not working. The effects of this may be felt right now mostly in the pocketbooks of their parents, for all of the energy drinks and Cheetos they purchase to feed their sons, but the economy will surely feel the stale air of the video game basements when the millennials emerge in due time as ill-equipped, middle-aged drains on society. These millennials are having a case of Peter Pan syndrome; they are men who wish to never grow up.

But these “Lost Boys” will continue to age, thereby becoming lost men and eventually lost geezers. If these men choose to not grow up, but rather stay dependent upon the generation ahead of them, the country is facing a perilous future.

The U.S. Census Bureau stamped millennials as the largest living generation in 2016. With 75.4 million 18-34-year-olds roaming the country, the generation surpasses their baby boomer parents, who make up 74.9 million citizens. This usurp of the top spot is attributed to millennials current age bracket, which includes young immigrants coming to America. The boomers’ numbers are shrinking due to deaths.

The boomers currently have the ability to financially support their offspring, but what happens when these boomers can no longer take care of themselves? Will they be able to rely on their leeching sons?

Money is simply not reward enough for these young men to punch a timeclock in the labor force. “When I play a game, I know if I have a few hours I will be rewarded," a then 22-year-old Danny Izquierdo told The Washington Post last year. "With a job, it's always been up in the air with the amount of work I put in and the reward."

Izquierdo, who lives with his parents, said he found part-time work after high school to be unsatisfying compared what video games offered. Hurst, an economist for the University of Chicago and one of the researchers of the recent study, said being unemployed is not impeding the Lost Boys’ mindsets.

“Happiness has gone up for this group, despite employment percentages having fallen, and the percentage living with parents going up. And that’s different than for any other group,” Hurst said.

The men of the millennial generation have found their niche in Neverland. How long they live there, or on mom and dad’s couch, remains to be seen, as they decide to live in a virtual world or reality.

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