Why We Exist


Policy solutions for boys and men

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.

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Boys and men are increasingly lonely, and at higher risk of suicide and “deaths of despair”

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.

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In the U.S., men are four times more likely to die by suicide than women.
Share of U.S. opioid overdose deaths that occur among men.
Man looking in distance

Men – especially working class men – are struggling in our changing global economy

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.

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Man in a warehouse
9 M
The number of working-age men not working or looking for work in late 2019.
The decline in median earnings for men without college degrees since 1979.

By multiple measures, boys have fallen far behind in education

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.

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The percentage point gap in school readiness between boys and girls at age 5.
Boy and teacher at a computer
The percentage point gap between boys and girls receiving bachelor’s degrees.

Black boys and men face particular challenges

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.

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In a given year, Black men earn approximately 30% less than white men.
Share of Bachelor’s degrees awarded to Black students going to Black men.
Counselor and student talking in a library

Family life is changing, but dads matter as much as ever

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.

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The share of fathers who say they spend too little time with their children.
The share of children being raised by a single mom, up from 11% in 1968.
1 in 3
The share of children who, six years after their parents separate, don't see their father at all.

Check out more research

There is unfortunately much more showing how boys and men are struggling, check out our deeper dives into our research areas.

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teen boy looking away