More Definitive Evidence on the Link Between Video Games and Labor-Force Participation…

Earlier this summer, four economists released a working paper suggesting that part of the decline in male labor-force participation can be attributed to the increased quality of video games:

Why Some Men Don’t Work: Video Games Have Gotten Really Good

Why Some Men Don’t Work: Video Games Have Gotten Really Good

Young men are working less. Some economists think it’s because they’re home playing video games.

Source: www.nytimes.com/2017/07/03/upshot/why-some-men-dont-work-video-games-have-gotten-really-good.html?mcubz=0

You can also see a non-technical summary of the paper as part of the NBER digest. Conceptually at least, this makes sense- better leisure activities increase the opportunity cost of working, which decreases the net benefit of working, and generally we do less of something when it’s perceived as less beneficial. As the article notes, this could lead to an increase in happiness for the non-working men (though perhaps not for those around them!) despite lower work hours/income if they like the video games more than they like what else they could get with the income from working. (In other words, the video game choice, if it exists, isn’t necessarily irrational.)

Not surprisingly, some people have their doubts about this finding, and there is additional disagreement about the social and policy implications of such a conclusion. I think I fall into this camp to some degree, but additional evidence makes it difficult for me to ignore the link between video games and male labor-force participation at a more general level:

Mario is no longer a plumber

Mario is no longer a plumber

It’s-a tragedy.

Source: qz.com/1069220/nintendo-says-that-mario-is-no-longer-a-plumber/

I assume, like any good capitalist, he’s now living off of the interest on all those gold coins he’s collected.

Possible But Ambiguous Economic Lessons From The Onion…

So I’m not entirely clear on what The Onion is making fun of here…

Nation’s Middle Class Chillingly Reappears Out Of Nowhere

Nation’s Middle Class Chillingly Reappears Out Of Nowhere

WASHINGTON– According to eyewitness accounts from around the country, the nation’s middle class suddenly and mysteriously reappeared Tuesday with baffled citizens providing chilling reports of thousands upon thousands of financially stable individuals pouring onto factory floors, taking up positions along assembly lines, and resuming their former blue-collar jobs without any warning whatsoever.

Source: www.theonion.com/article/nations-middle-class-chillingly-reappears-out-nowh-56824

…but I have a couple hypotheses:

1. (more obvious) If polls are to be believed, the economy immediately improved once Trump got elected. Yes, this seems absurd if taken literally, but I guess this is what the concept of “animal spirits” is supposed to be all about. If enough people believe that Trump will be good for the economy and act accordingly, it kind of becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. But it still doesn’t happen immediately so come on, people. (Also, it doesn’t mean that the old-timey jobs will come roaring back.)

2. (more nuanced) This article was published right after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its monthly “jobs report”, which showed that the unemployment rate increased even though there was an increase in the number of jobs in the economy. This seems weird, but it’s what happens when people enter the labor force (i..e either start working or start looking for work) and not all of them immediately find jobs. I initially thought that the reappearance of the middle class was supposed to be this increase in the labor force, but I could be overthinking things.

Other thoughts?