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Too many boys and men are struggling–at school, at work, and in their families and communities.
At the American Institute for Boys & Men, we believe many of these challenges are structural and demand evidence-based policy solutions. Our aim is to inform policy and public dialogue with nonpartisan research so that boys and men from all backgrounds can lead healthy, happy, and meaningful lives.
Fifteen percent of young men today say they don’t have a close friend–a five-fold increase since 1990. This loneliness, combined with a range of societal changes and pressures, has resulted in a mental health crisis for American boys and men. Today, men are four times more likely than women to die by suicide but ten percentage points less likely than women to access mental health care.
In the span of only a few decades, the U.S. labor market has been transformed. As a result of structural changes in the economy–for example offshoring and automation–fewer men are working. Many of those who are working have seen a big decline in their wages.
Men make up the majority of the workers in many industries most affected by automation. Today, men are less likely than women to graduate high school or earn a four-year college degree. Vocational training has been shown to boost earnings for men without bachelor’s degrees, but investments in these programs are limited.
Over the last several decades, girls have overtaken boys by nearly every metric in educational outcomes. Today, boys are less prepared to start school and, at nearly every point in their K-12 school career, have lower GPAs than girls. Boys are also less likely to take advanced-placement courses and less likely to graduate high school. Women make up the majority of students on America’s college campuses.
Girls are thriving–and that’s good news–but the data couldn’t be more clear. Something’s not working for boys.
We can see the systemic disadvantage of Black boys and men across many measures. At every stage of education, from elementary school through graduation Black men’s outcomes lag those of white men and Black women. In employment, Black men earn less and are less likely to rise up the economic ladder than white men. As adults, even Black men raised in affluent families have lower employment rates than white men raised in poverty.
Educational and labor market trends have transformed the economics of the family. In 41% of U.S. households today, women are the main breadwinner. But cultural expectations and valuations of fatherhood are lagging. The result is a national “dad deficit”. This not only affects women and children, but also hurts millions of American men who are disconnected from their families.