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What Do Male Nonworkers Do?

Jay Stewart


Although male nonworkers have become a larger fraction of the population since the late 1960s, labor economists know very little about them. Using data from several sources—the March CPS, the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, and the 1992-94 University of Maryland Time Diary Study—this paper fills that void. The picture that emerges is that there is a small cadre of marginal workers who often do not work for periods of a year or more and tend to work relatively few weeks in the years that they do work. The vast majority of nonworking men (men who do not work at all during the year) receive unearned income from at least one source, and the amount of unearned income received varies significantly by reason for not working. Family members provide an important alternative source of support for nonworking men who have little or no unearned income of their own. For the most part, these nonworking men are not substituting nonmarket work for market work. Most of the time that is freed up by not working is spent in leisure activities and sleep.