Abe Barksdale

As it seems to advance in many respects, the current generation of Americans has seen a strong decline in work ethic. David Brooks illustrates interesting points from Tyler Cowen’s “The Complacent Class” in his article for the New York Times, “This Century is Broken”; the rate of Americans crossing state lines has declined by 51% since the 1950s and 1960s, and Americans under 30 who own their own business has declined by 65% since 1980. These startling statistics call for an analysis of Americans of the millennial generation and the long-term sustainability of their practices.


The statistics Brooks highlights are microeconomic tendencies that lead to macroeconomic issues – issues of long-run economic outlook, labor force participation, and unemployment. In regards to microeconomics, these statistics support the theory of assortative mating; assortative mating suggests that like individuals marry like individuals. This theory creates large inequalities and concentrations of wealth that hinder the growth and prosperity of Americans. As Cowen suggests, with many in the generation not branching out, I argue, there will be continued levels of inequality that will persist as long as individuals remain stagnant in location; when individuals move, there are tendencies for innovation and change – these positive externalities will remain unrecognized of their full potential if members of the current generation do not become more mobile. Additionally, Cowen’s acknowledgement of Americans under 30 not owning their own businesses furthers the lack of innovation and entrepreneurship. This lack of discovery and initiative, will result is less development, and, in turn, less stimulated demand to expand the economy. With these two combined forces, the stagnancy of Americans and the lack of entrepreneurship, I argue America’s economy will face a harsh contraction and correction.


Even though the economy as a whole may be growing, the rate of growth has declined to a mere 1.1 percent since 2009. Not only is this an astonishing decrease in growth from previous growth trends of 2.3 percent between 1948 and 2000, but had the U.S. maintained postwar growth, the U.S. GDP per capita would be over 20 percent higher. This suggests, that the U.S. needs innovation and change more than ever to combat the declining growth rates. With the current generation not “pulling their weight”, the American economy cannot expect to rebound to levels of prosperous growth.This is a serious issue the generation must confront.


I argue that, in order to prevent these disastrous effects becoming too widespread and their effects felt on the economy, the current generation must change their attitudes and ideals towards work. Possible corrections include, increased desire to consume and innovation – this innovation will boost the economy and aggregate demand, along with job creation through entrepreneurship. The main goal should be to increase the labor-force participation as to boost demand, employment, and long run aggregate supply. With the implementation of these increases, the economy can advance in ways that should have been realized after the second world war. This growth will bring America’s economy to levels of prosperity that can support immigration and combat climate change – two important topics that are often overlooked due to resource allocation. With the economy growing and becoming increasingly stable, funds will be freed up to advance the efficiency of the markets and benefit the greater American society.

Are We Actually Progressing