Ex­perts worry about mil­len­ni­als’ fail­ure to pri­or­i­tize work­ing, sav­ing

Cherokee County Herald - - COMMUNITY NEWS - By Mar­garet R. McDow­ell

“Found my way down­stairs and drank a cup…. “And look­ing up… “I no­ticed I was late.” “A Day in the Life” as per­formed by The Bea­tles

Re­peated stud­ies re­veal that the longer some­one is un­em­ployed, ei­ther due to down­siz­ing, be­cause of a lack of skills, or by the in­di­vid­ual’s fail­ure to seek a job, the less likely they are to re­gain em­ploy­ment later on.

With mil­lions of able-bod­ied mil­len­ni­als and teens world­wide es­chew­ing gain­ful em­ploy­ment in fa­vor of play­ing video games, should we be con­cerned?

Ev­i­dence sug­gests that we should. A re­cent study by the Na­tional Bureau of Eco­nomic Research states that Amer­i­can men in their twen­ties worked 12 per­cent fewer hours in 2015 than they did in the year 2000.

And while cer­tain tra­di­tional male-dom­i­nated in­dus­tries like con­struc­tion have suf­fered since 2000, there are jobs avail­able.

A cer­tain por­tion of younger Mar­garet R. McDow­ell work­ers just won’t take them, and it’s pri­mar­ily be­cause of their com­mit­ment to gam­ing.

Not only are young Amer­i­can men work­ing less hours than they did a gen­er­a­tion ago, some 15 per­cent in this age group did not work at all in 2015, ac­cord­ing to the same NBER study.

Per­haps not sur­pris­ingly, 35 per­cent of men in their twen­ties live at home or with a close rel­a­tive, a dou­ble-digit in­crease over the last decade or so.

Young men ob­sessed with video games are putting aside noth­ing for re­tire­ment, build­ing no So­cial Se­cu­rity ben­e­fits, and gen­er­ally fail­ing to en­gage with oth­ers. Nor are they con­tribut­ing to GDP. In short, they’re barely par­tic­i­pat­ing in the econ­omy.

The problem is epic in East Asia. Mil­lions of young Chi­nese peo­ple are so ad­dicted to a pop­u­lar game played on smart­phones that, at the urg­ing of the gov­ern­ment, the game man­u­fac­turer had to im­pose time lim­its on chil­dren play­ing its own prod­uct.

This is tan­ta­mount to a car man­u­fac­turer sell­ing you the lat­est model ve­hi­cle, but re­strict­ing your time be­hind that ve­hi­cle’s wheel lest your ad­dic­tion to driv­ing ruin your life.

Ja­pan’s gam­ing ad­dic­tion takes a dif­fer­ent form. It’s es­ti­mated that one mil­lion Ja­panese young­sters, mostly young men, are hikiko­mori, a term that roughly means “with­drawn.” They vir­tu­ally live in their rooms and will not leave. Video gam­ing is a huge por­tion of the hikiko­mori life­style.

Pro­po­nents of video games say that mod­er­ate play can in fact en­hance cog­ni­tion and foster online so­cial­iza­tion ex­pe­ri­ences through team build­ing. For some this may in­deed be true.

But it’s in­creas­ingly ap­par­ent that’s not the case for most. A 25- year- old Amer­i­can man who won’t ap­ply for a job be­cause of his gam­ing sched­ule may re­gret that de­ci­sion later in life.

Work­ing al­lows one to be­come eco­nom­i­cally in­de­pen­dent.

It also of­fers in-per­son so­cial­iza­tion and be­hav­ioral ex­pe­ri­ences that can’t be ab­sorbed in the base­ment of your par­ents’ house.

Mar­garet R. McDow­ell, ChFC ® , AIF®, au­thor of the syn­di­cated eco­nomic col­umn “Arbor Out­look”, is the founder of Arbor Wealth Man­age­ment, LLC, (850.608.6121~www.ar­bor­wealth.net), a fee-only, fidu­ciary Reg­is­tered In­vest­ment Ad­vi­sory Firm lo­cated near Destin, FL. This col­umn should not be con­sid­ered per­son­al­ized in­vest­ment ad­vice and pro­vides no as­sur­ance that any spe­cific strat­egy or in­vest­ment will be suit­able or prof­itable for an in­vestor.

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