Single, unemployed men

The quarterly household survey is out today and one figure in particular is worth highlighting. It relates to middle-aged single men. 

It turns out that an astounding 30 per cent of single men aged 45-54 do not participate in the labour force. Whether this is through choice or circumstance is hard to say but what is strange about the figure is the fact that it is so much higher than among single men aged 25-34, or single men aged 35-44. Among these two age groups the percentage not in the labour force is 10.4 per cent and 15.4 per cent respectively, in other words, a third or half the figure for the 45-54 year olds. 

Single men in this age group are also less likely to be working than women in that age group. A quarter of single women aged 45-54 do not work.

This begs the question; what happens to single men as they move into middle age? Do certain personal and health problems emerge that make it impossible/difficult for them to work? 

In contrast, the overwhelming majority of married men in this age group work, a massive 91.9 per cent. So what is it about single, middle-aged men? Does marriage give certain men an incentive to keep working for the sake of their families, or it is that men who are good at getting and holding down a job, are also better at getting married and staying married? Perhaps it’s a bit of both. 

One statistic that indicates it could be that there is something about marriage that helps keep men in a job is the fact that single men under the age of 45 are much more likely to be in work than their older single counterparts. As they get older do some of them lose motivation, the motivation that marriage provides? 

If this is indeed the case, or even partly the case, the argument in favour of marriage becomes even stronger than it already is.