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Escaping Poverty and Securing Middle Class Status: How Race and Socioeconomic Status Shape Mobility Prospects for African Americans During the Transition to Adulthood

Abstract

This article draws on extant research from the disciplines of psychology, sociology, and economics to identify linkages between individual, family, community, and structural factors related to social mobility for African Americans during the transition to adulthood. It considers how race and class together affect opportunities for social mobility through where African Americans live, whom they associate with, and how they are impacted by racial and class-related stigma. Of particular interest is social mobility as accomplished through academic achievement, educational attainment, employment, economic independence, and homeownership. Research on five issues is reviewed and discussed: (a) the unique vulnerabilities of newly upwardly mobile African Americans, (b) wealth as a source of inequality, (c) racism and discrimination, (d) the stigma associated with lower-class status, and (e) social and cultural capital. The article concludes with a summary and directions for future research.

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Notes

  1. We use the terms “African American” and “Black” interchangeably.

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Correspondence to Cecily R. Hardaway.

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Hardaway, C.R., McLoyd, V.C. Escaping Poverty and Securing Middle Class Status: How Race and Socioeconomic Status Shape Mobility Prospects for African Americans During the Transition to Adulthood. J Youth Adolescence 38, 242–256 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-008-9354-z

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Keywords

  • African Americans
  • Transition to adulthood
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Social mobility