Monday, 11 May 2009

"Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider..."

"...girls go to college to get more knowledge."

Forgive me lads, but that playground rhyme emphasizes the importance of education for girls. However, it is a pity there wasn't something similar for the boys. There is a huge unrecognized problem of male unemployment in the UK. It is closely associated with poor educational achievement.

Education levels are the key factor in determining labour force participation for both genders. An incredible 37 percent of men without qualifications are not in the labour force.

For women, the rate is 57 percent. Of course, much of female non-participation is associated with child rearing. There are also well understood perverse incentives within the benefit system that encourages young girls to enter motherhood rather than the labour market or further education.

For women, the higher the level of education, the greater the probability of being in the labour market. For men, there doesn't appear to be much variation. So long as a man has some kind of qualification, then he is likely to be working.

Education really matters; for both girls and boys.

(Source: ONS, Social Trends 39)


Rick said...

As a man with lots of qualifications I sill feel like I've wasted my time given the state of the job market.

RayD said...

This gap has been opening up for a long time, but nobody seems to want to put their finger on why. (Although they'll happily take your money to provide remedial courses for boys.) Something must have changed. It seems unlikely to be the pupils, as you would expect the sexes to be affected equally. So what is it, the teachers, the methods or the subjects? I don't accept boys are getting "stupider".

sobers said...

What? All this table proves is that whatever their educational achievement, men work more than women do. In fact given that 57% of women with no qualifications are economically inactive vs 37% for men, there should be a drive to make sure women are better educated, not men.

It also suggests that the country is wasting resources educating women who then fail to use them. I am firmly of the opinion that if you take up tertiary education and then stay out of the workforce voluntarily, then the entire cost of that education should be repaid.

Budvar said...

It may have something to do with subjects taken. My local college has acres of engineering workshops fully equipped with machinery. The last course they did was in excess of 25 years ago, reason being nobody wants to take them as there's no work for them once qualified, even if there was, I doubt many girlies would be elbowing their way to the front of the queue putting their name down. Now "Law" ie glorified notary public or ambulance chaser, or "Meeja studies" ie reading the paper and watching the telly, it's just what every working class lad from a council estate dreams of doing when he leaves school, a career in advertising or a graphic artist!!

Anonymous said...

Why is it a perverse incentive to encourage motherhood instead of work?
Alice, probably you have a good interesting job. The tragedy of the feminist movement is that for millions of women they are denied access to motherhood, not that they are denied access to work.
Given that the largest purchase we need to make is for property, a fixed amount of which exists, what exactly is the benefit of shrinking the population and becoming dependant on immigration just so that two can work to purchase something that only one needed to before.
You should tell your theories about women in the workforce next time to the cashiers when you are in a supermarket queue.
My wife would prefer to look after children, I would prefer her to also, but she has to work for money because property is expensive. Great win for women..

AntiCitizenOne said...

It's rather obvious that parents of children being educated then the person being tutored should pay for their own education.

Aligning educational benefit and Costs would be excellent for the economy and thus society.

Anonymous said...

This is a result of the feminization of schools & the workplace.

When I did my O levels 30+ years ago, the result depended on how you did on the day; this competitive type of exam suits boys and there was a big furore on how badly girls were doing at the time.

So, they made it easier for girls and for the plodders to do well too; made the exams continuous assessment, so you'd get marks for spending 1 week doing a nice essay and getting your mum or dad to help; not to mention the internet...

Kids are no less intelligent than 30,50,100 years ago. And what about the bloody ridiculous emphasis on performing arts!

Dumbing down of Britain. It's what the Govt want so you don't complain.

powerman said...

What the graph shows is that pretty much all men educated above the level of 'hopeless chav' feel it's their duty to earn a living outside the home.

Women are much more likely to want to raise children (how this is classified as being 'economically inactive' is beyond me).

This has nothing to do with either gender lacking education. We spend too much educating people past the age of 16 as it is.

trimalchio said...

Alice - forgive me for being stupid (if I am, you'll have to blame my Y chromosome) but doesn't your table illustrate the exact opposite of what you say? Two trends jump out to me - that men are more likely to be employed than women at any level of education (and we can feasibly put that down to childcare) and that women are disproportionately more likely not to be earning with fewer qualifications (which is more doubtful).

Alice Cook said...


When I found these numbers, my first thought was that the low participation of women without qualifications was not a surprise.

Nor was I surprised by the lower participation rates across all education groups for women.

However, I was very suprised by the low participation rates for men without qualifications. That was the point that I really wanted to get across in the post.