The result was that a young man could take almost any job and expect his earnings to improve substantially with time. Conversely, a young woman could marry almost any man and expect that he could support a family far better than she ever could. The prospect of ever-improving economic security made young men more likely to stay with their employers, especially since so many belonged to unions that advanced their collective interests. And the lack of earnings prospects for women made them more likely to stay with their husbands.
Today, job prospects for young men are far less favorable. Real wages for men under age 35 have fallen almost continuously since the late 1970s, and those with only a high school diploma have experienced the sharpest losses. Between 1979 and 2007, young male high school graduates saw a 29 percent decline in real annual earnings — an even steeper decline than the 18 percent drop for men with no high school diploma.