What Are Our Biggest Economic Problems Right Now?

Over at Equitable Growth: I have been someone who takes the long-run secular decline in prime-age male employment as a canary in the coal mine: it has seemed to me via sign that information technology which greatly reduces valuable employment of human brains as cybernetic control elements for machines poses us with significant problems that are not necessarily economic but rather in the sociology of social roles. When Case and Deaton on the decline in life expectancy among the white and middle-aged crossed my desk earlier this week, I thought that case was reinforced.

But now I find myself updating and looking at this graph:

It now looks quite different from how it looked a couple of years ago.

I had, a couple of years ago, taken the gender gap in trends here as an indication that those trained not to focus on social intelligence were having increasing difficulties finding valued social roles, and thus as a sign that information technology sociological apocalypse was drawing near. But now… relative to 2000, it is much easier to tell a slack-labor-demand-is-most-of-it story.

Thus I am now swinging toward thinking that if we could only focus on expansionary fiscal policy to restore the high-pressure full-employment economy of the Clinton years that we would find our longer-run structural problems solving themselves, or at any rate becoming smaller and moving further away into the distance. And I am now swinging toward understanding Case and Deaton as more evidence on the extremely high sociological costs of a low-pressure economy.

Originally published at www.bradford-delong.com.