"Is there a whole class of men who no longer fit into the social order?"

It is not just fatherlessness, the two economists write. A key factor is that single parents — disproportionately female — are “more limited in the amount of time they can devote to child care activities.” If, then, “boys are more responsive to parental inputs (or the absence thereof) than are girls, it is possible that the gender gradient in behavioral and academic development could be magnified in single-parent households.” They cite a study demonstrating that single mothers “report feeling more emotionally distant from their sons and engage in disciplinary action such as spanking more frequently with their sons. These disparities in parenting are largely absent from dual parent homes.”

Adam Enders, a professor of political science at the University of Louisville, sees the troubles of young white men in particular as an outcome of their partisan resentments.

“My take is that lower class white males likely have lower trust in institutions of higher education over time. This bears out in the aggregate,” he wrote, citing a Pew Research Survey.