2014 April 06 Sunday
Tyler Cowen On Young Men With Restless Temperaments

Tyler injects a bit of reality into the discussion on declining male labor market participation.

There is also a special problem for some young men, namely those with especially restless temperaments. They arenít always well-suited to the new class of service jobs, like greeting customers or taking care of the aged, which require much discipline or sometimes even a subordination of will.

The labor market is shifting against males with any of these attributes:

  • Short attention span.
  • Love of outdoors work.
  • Doesn't want to take orders.
  • Low IQ.
  • Impulsive

Tyler says that automation alone isn't causing the decline in male labor market participation. Okay, if automation preferentially eliminates male jobs and the people use the money saved to buy more services (e.g. more hotel stays and so more jobs for those greeting customers warmly at a hotel desk) that does work against men. There are fewer jobs involving men against the elements operating equipment.

What can be done about it? In 10 or 20 years time: offspring genetic engineering. The upper classes will make sure they do not give birth to boys without the qualities needed for labor market success. Genetic attributes associated with labor market success will be tested for in multiple embryos and the best ones chosen for implantation. How many in the lower classes will opt for embryo selection? At least in the United States I foresee big political resistance for government funding to make this affordable for the poor.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2014 April 06 10:24 AM 

Gerard Mason said at April 6, 2014 1:46 PM:

It's no accident that hive-living species always seem to be based on females.

Trey said at April 7, 2014 2:09 AM:

Genetic engineering will be a fact. Eventually, almost every parent will demand it.

Nick said at April 7, 2014 3:59 AM:

Offspring genetic engineering on a large scale in 10-20 years seems like a stretch, but maybe things are moving faster than I realize. What I do think is realistic though is heavy medication with Ritalin and the like, and more of it being done without parental consent in schools or during regular doctor visits. Perhaps they will discover some kind of injectable, long-term anti-depressant or subdermal implant that will keep impulsive males in check. Wars are another way to cull the male population and assuming there is a draft, the government may select these types of males for front line duty.

Stephen said at April 7, 2014 5:31 AM:

Nick said: What I do think is realistic though is heavy medication with Ritalin and the like, and more of it being done without parental consent in schools or during regular doctor visits

This feel like the lowest energy method, so I think it'll be the most likely. There's no way those who get access to genetic engineering will want it to spread downward - that just creates more competition for the already scarce and rapidly diminishing pool of jobs that humans can do better than machines.

If we stick with a 30yr time horizon, we've also got to factor in a world with 60 IQ AI machines with unblinking, unforgetting 24/7 concentration. Within a few years they'd be doing all rule-based repetitive work - operating the hotel service desks, personal assistants, transit drivers, cleaning, gardening, production line manufacturing. Maybe even lawyering and operating theatre work.

The overwhelming bulk of humanity will be unemployable regardless of genetic tinkering. Those who are still employable won't have jobs because no one has any money to buy stuff because they're all unemployed. That's not going to be pretty until the AI is very smart, ubiquitous and basically free - at that point humans will either cease to exist (wiped out by the AI), devolve (because we stop selecting for key abilities) or live a diamond-age life of infinite possibility (served by friendly AI). I'll leave you to guess which one it'll be.

bbartlog said at April 7, 2014 12:02 PM:

Actually, especially because the first line of genetic improvement is going to be PIGS, I don't see much resistance from the upper classes at all. You don't see the elite opposing public schooling just because it creates competition, do you? In general they behave as if they will always be in charge in the future as well as the present.
As for no one having any money to buy stuff, there will continue to be redistribution of wealth to the poor and disabled. I hope that we can rationalize that system, but even if it just expands in its current form, people will still have money.

Check it out said at April 7, 2014 5:44 PM:

Oh Nick, Nick, please Nick.

Many people continue to think Ritalin is the panacea and only solution for the real causes of so many behavioristic problems in growing kids. Continue using Ritalin forcefully and indiscriminately in the U.S. and soon the society as a whole will be unable to function. A little like the movie "Harrison Bergeron" or "Idiocracy".

In fact much of today's problem IS due to Ritalin. Active open-ended play in childhood is one of the pillars of democracy. Mental health depends in great part on children being allowed to play and be active, even what many people would call "hyperactive". When play is taken away from children they are unable to do develop their creativity which is necessary for solving problems in their future, and the less creative a person is the more violent he becomes. Sounds familiar? I mean, just by looking around? You think all those school shootings are carried out by young men with restless temperaments or hyperactivity disorder? Hyperactivity is a vital and essential part of growing up at a point in everybody's life even yours; you just don't remember or were too high on Ritalin.

It's not like young men have suddenly become idiots of short attention span, or low IQs, or impulsiveness. It's years of all kind of legal abuse: tv abuse, medication/drug abuse. Yes, so much f***en medication during childhood is the real drug abuse. Of course there are also all the forms or illegal abuse as well, like sex abuse, religious and indoctrinating abuse, although I quickly realize that this last type of abuse is still legal. Idiot parents still allow idiot "doctors" to give their kids Ritalin. Idiotic parents believe that the state actually has authority over their children.

Here's what they don't tell you:


But of course it takes a little looking into real valuable information. It requires for you to make an effort to consider causes and effects, and be able to connect to ideas together.

Ritalin my ass. It is precisely those young men with "restless temperaments" who have had the highest IQs, who have brought about the most important changes for the better in society. Shall I start quoting?

Ritalin, ritalin, ritalin has become a f***en mantra.

SlargTarg said at April 7, 2014 6:16 PM:

I don't know why you keep bringing up Genetic Engineering as a solution to the lower class problem.

It would have to be done in a test tube, as you have to engineer the cell prior to conception.

How many low-class pregnancies are planned?

Perhaps the welfare queens looking for a government check "plan" their pregnancy by hooking up intentionally without birth control.

Natural conception would have to be completely eliminated, and what is the likelihood of that among the dregs of society?

Bort said at April 8, 2014 9:21 PM:

Taking care of the aged is one of the shittiest jobs, and I mean that literally.

deltahedge said at April 9, 2014 1:11 AM:

These young men are only partly the product of their environment, but mainly of who actually were the ones who bred 30 years ago. I myself am 25 - and i dare to say the older generation, even the ones who empathically point out the dysgenic effect in modern society, has any clue of how much worse this has become since mid-2000'. There is an inertia of roughly 20-30 years, so expect the shit to really hit the fan around 2025-2035.

Toddy Cat said at April 9, 2014 8:51 AM:

"how much worse this has become since mid-2000'

As a 50+ year old, this really interest me, DH. Can you elaborate?

Bismarkian said at April 9, 2014 1:01 PM:

"At least in the United States I foresee big political resistance for government funding to make this affordable for the poor."

Demographic changes mean wealth-transfer liberals will have increased power at the federal level.

If genetic engineering is something that Whites and Asians have, then NAMs will want it.

Religious conservatives likely won't have the votes to block that "social justice" on religious grounds.

If it works, then archaic Homo sapiens will have been tricked into investing parental effort into kids who are genetically and culturally very different from themselves (by e.g. 50,000 years).

Check it out said at April 9, 2014 4:14 PM:

It has become almost universally accepted by parents, schools, child psychologists and even law enforcement that children are, in fact, simply miniature adults and we demand of them to act accordingly. A child who is unable to conform to this new societal standard of acceptable adult behavior is immediately labeled "mentally ill," and is either punished, medicated or forced into psychological treatment.

A six year old who kissed a classmate was suspended from school and classified by the district a predator for "sex harassment." In Georgia, a female kindergarten student was handcuffed and later suspended for a childish temper tantrum. A similar 2012 incident involving a five year old Stockton, California boy resulted in the child's arrest and a charge of battery to an officer. The boy was then "transported to a hospital for further psychiatric evaluation," according to local NBC affiliate KCRA. Virtually every aspect of childhood behavior and mischief has been criminalized using an adult standard, to such an extent that a Chicago thirteen year old now faces multiple adult felonies for a stray snowball.

Children of all ages are being treated solely for the disease of normal childhood behavior. Childhood isn't a disease, though, so medical science is placed in a position of developing a highly subjective and vague default diagnosis for the mental illness of immaturity. The symptoms required for a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD as it is commonly known, are as broadly defined as the name itself implies. Virtually any normal child behavior could be considered ADHD at some given moment.

There are now so many diagnosable disorders for the natural, ordinary human condition and behavior, they fill volumes. While doctors, psychiatrists, parents, schools and law enforcement all play a definite destructive role in this, in the end, they are only a symptom, in and of themselves, of a much greater disease. Americans are the most overmedicated society on earth because by and large, they're medicating just to survive Capitalism. Given this culture and modern conditions, one is more likely to be living out the Medicated Capitalist Zombie Apocalypse than the American dream.

Engineer-Poet said at April 9, 2014 4:28 PM:

They're not being medicated to survive capitalism.  They're being medicated to conform to cultural Marxism.

Stephen said at April 9, 2014 5:51 PM:

Poet said, "They're being medicated to conform to cultural Marxism."

Poet, my understanding of cultural marxism is that its a method of social analysis rather than something that is conformed to (ie a method of social control). In essence cultural marxism is directed at teasing out aspects of a society that most members assume to be natural/obvious but which is actually inculcated.

In fact, it would be fair to say that a lot of the critical thinking undertaken here by Randall and other posters (including yourself) is in fact the application of cultural marxism to identify problems that are assumed by the masses to just be the way things have always been.

Engineer-Poet said at April 9, 2014 7:11 PM:

Cultural Marxism is a more accurate term for what's commonly known as "political correctness".  This is exactly what the hysteria over e.g. a Pop Tart chewed into a shape which resembled something to someone is about.

Stephen said at April 9, 2014 11:32 PM:

Perhaps its one of those signalling phrases that has a loaded meaning in the US that isn't present when the phrase is used in the rest of the world.

Do you have an idea of when its usage first arose in the US? (ie when it first began to be used in common discourse rather than restricted to droning monologues from philosophy professors)

Randall Parker said at April 13, 2014 7:20 PM:


The earliest step of offspring genetic engineering is possible today: IVF embryo selection. We already know lots of genetic variants that correlate with IQ. I mean, that is amazing and yet unused today. It is totally practical today to build gene chips that will do the testing on a cell removed from an early stage embryo.

If I was wealthy I'd pay to have the gene chip made and then make it available for use in offshore fertility clinics.

Randall Parker said at April 13, 2014 7:22 PM:


The poor could be offered serious money to use Norplant. A woman could make a few thousand a year to use norplant and then IVF with genetic testing for embryo selection to make a baby.

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