The Myth of Men’s Stable, Continuous Labor Force Attachment: Multitrajectories of U.S. Baby Boomer Men’s Employment

Adrianne Frech, Jane Lankes, Sarah Damaske, Adrienne Ohler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the past several decades, U.S. men’s paid work has transformed from a state of high stability and continuity to a state of increased instability and precarity. Despite this, full-time employment throughout adulthood remains the presumed standard for modern American men. The authors investigated the diversity of men’s workforce experiences using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth “National Longitudinal Survey of Youth - 1979 cohort” and identified six multitrajectories of men’s time spent employed, unemployed, and out of the labor force from ages 27 to 49. The authors identified one multitrajectory of steady work, three of increasing unemployment or time out of work, one of increasing steady work, and one of intermittent work. Contrary to conventional assumptions, only 41 percent of men followed a trajectory of continuous, high employment over the duration of their prime earning years. This suggests that most men do not achieve the “ideal worker norm,” raising implications for how research and policy conceptualize men’s work experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)

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