What Do Prime-Age ‘NILF’ Men Do All Day?

What Do Prime-Age ‘NILF’ Men Do All Day?

In my research for my talk Men: Navigating Everything I continuously came across statistics of men who are not working. NIFL is a term for Not In Labour Force. This article is talking about Universal Basic Income which is really not what I am looking at here but my interest is in why a growing number of men do not work. Some of the stats I have read say 1 in 4 20-year-old men and 1 in 7 adult men do not work. This is men not in school/training which is a term called NEET (Not employed nor in education or training) but men who are just not working and not looking for work. It is also a growing number of emails I receive from women who are at a loss with what to do with their husband who does not work. This is not meant to be a bash on men but I think it is a topic that we need to address more within our church walls. There has to be a way to look at this growing challenge and not be either bashing or indifferent to the conversation.

Just how and why so many men in the prime of life should now be swept up in this flight from work is a matter of continuing scholarly research and debate. For now, it will suffice to observe that these many millions of men already draw on resources sufficient to afford a work-free existence.

So what do these work-free men do with all their time? We can best answer that question by comparing their self-reported activities with those of other 25-54 year-old Americans surveyed by ATUS: employed men; unemployed men; and employed women. The “employed” men and women in this survey, incidentally, are not necessarily full-time workers—even men and women very slightly employed are counted in this category. The “unemployed,” for their part, are persons currently jobless who want work and still consider themselves part of the labor force.

Apart from work, by far the biggest difference between the daily schedules of NILF men and everyone else comes in what the ATUS calls “socializing, relaxing, and leisure,” a category that encompasses a range of activities, from listening to music to visiting a museum to attending a party. On average, prime-age NILF men spend almost seven and a half hours a day in such diversions—over four hours a day more than working women, nearly four hours a day more than working men, and over an hour more than jobless men looking for work.

The rhythms of life for a great many of the prime-age men in America currently disengaged from work is defined not simply by days and nights sitting in front of screens—but sitting in front of screens while numbed or stoned. 

As I continue to speak to research and speak to men on relevant topics I think this is an important one that needs to be addressed. I am assuming the answer is a myriad of issues from over-parenting, undiagnosed mental health struggles, crippling addictions to drugs/alcohol and pornography, missing a strong work ethic, almost complete absence of rich friendships, and a lack of taking responsibility for one’s own life amongst many other issues.

I wanted to post this article to have this discussion saved in my blog postings for me as I continue my research into this area and to hopefully spark some conversation on this issue.

Love to hear your thoughts on this.

Click here for the entire article.

About The Author

Brett Ullman

Brett Ullman travels North America speaking to teens, young adults, leaders, and parents on topics including parenting, mental health, sexuality, pornography, men, dating and media. Brett's seminars engage and challenge attendees to try and connect our ancient faith with our modern culture we live in. Participants are inspired to reflect on what we know, what we believe and how our faith ought to serve as the lens through which we view and engage tough conversations in our society today.

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