The strange thing causing young men to become bludgers
MEN are less productive and are working less hours and the reason may have less to do with the changing nature of jobs than we think.
It could - at least in part - be down to computer games.
Men at the beginning of their careers could be spending more time trying to reach the next level on a video game than the next level at work.
The amount of time young working age men spend playing video games has shot up, new research has revealed. At the same time, the number of hours they spend at work has fallen.
US researchers wondered if young men were spending so much time playing games, they were neglecting their work or not putting in the hard yards to get a promotion.
Or if the game playing was a symptom of a lack of available work.
They also looked at how much time, proportional to other activities, video games sucked up.
Between 2004 and 2007, men between 21 and 30 years old played two hours of video games per week. But that has now risen to 3.4 hours per week according to the American Time Use Survey.
Men aged between 21 and 30 years old saw their working hours decline by 12 per cent annually from 2000 to 2015, compared with an 8 per cent decline for older men, reported America's CBS.
The decline on work hours exceed that for women.
Closer to home, the 2016 Digital Australia report found Australian gamers might be even more addicted than their US counterparts racking up 100 minutes on average a day staring at the small screen - that's 11 hours a week. Female gamers spent less time online.
A 2016 report also found Australians were working between one and two hours less per week than a decade before.
Professor Erik Hurst, an economics expert at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and one of the authors of the paper said there had been a "huge shift" towards men playing computer games, more than any other activity.
Advances in gaming, particularly social gaming, had boosted their popularity.
"When you weren't working in the 1980s, it had to be a very lonely experience," Prof Hurst said. "But now if you aren't working, you can interact with people online, some people you know and some people you don't know."
Video games were indeed playing a part in the decline in work hours for young men, he said. But there were other reasons, especially for less-educated men with fewer professional skills where employment opportunities have dwindled.
"There has been a big decline in labour demand during this time period, especially in declining manufacturing sectors in the [American] midwest," Prof Hurst noted.
The stratification of wages also helped boost the popularity of video games, given one $100 game can provide potentially hundreds of hours of entertainment.
A recent Japanese report found many young men remained virgins even into their 30s. Many said they preferred gaming to coupling.
The reluctance of the Japanese to hop into bed is such a problem, it's having a dramatic effect on the nation's population, which plummeted more than 300,000 to 125.6m last year.
In the country that gave us the love hotel and vending machines full of knickers, nearly half of 18 to 34-year-olds are still virgins and 64 per cent had never had a relationship, according to research cited by the BBC.
The reasons varied for the wariness about going all the way but included a lack of self-esteem, fear of rejection, all-consuming hobbies - such as gaming - and the ease of accessing pornography online.