Advertisement

The black middle class: Progress, prospects, and puzzles

  • Paul Attewell
  • Thurston Domina
  • David Lavin
  • Tania Levey
Article

Abstract

This article documents the size and growth of the black middle class at the beginning of the 21st century, analyzing data from the US Census and the Current Population Survey on income, occupations, and education. We examine barriers to further growth of the black middle class, assessing theories of marriageability and imbalances in the numbers of college-educated black men and women. We also document the consequences of low marriage and cohabitation rates for the growth of the black middle class, and show that there are relatively high rates of intergenerational downward mobility among affluent black families.

Keywords

Black Woman Current Population Survey American Sociological Review Stereotype Threat Marriage Rate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Biddlecom, A. and Kramerow, E. (1998). Household headship among married women: The roles of power, education, and convention. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 19 (4), 367–382.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chiswick, B. (1977). Sons of immigrants: Are they at an earnings disadvantage? American Economic Review, 67, 376–80.Google Scholar
  3. Conley, D. (1999). Being Black, living in the red. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  4. Davis, T. J., Jr. (1995). The occupational mobility of Black males revisited: Does race matter? The Social Science Journal, 32, 121–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Duncan, G. J., Boisjoly, J. and Smeeting, T. (1996). Economic mobility of young workers in the 1970s and 1980s. Demography, 33 (4), 497–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Duncan, O.D. (1968). Patterns of occupational mobility among Negro men. Demography, 5 (1), 11–22.Google Scholar
  7. Goldscheider, F.K. and Waite, L.J. (1986). Sex differences in the entry into marriage. American Journal of Sociology, 92, 91–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Graham, L.O. (1995). Member of the club. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  9. —————. (1999). Our kind of people. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  10. Greene, J. and Forster, G. (2003). Public high school graduation and college readiness rates in the United States. Education Working Paper #3. New York: The Manhattan Institute.Google Scholar
  11. Grodsky, E. & Pager D. (2001). The structure of disadvantage: Individual and occupational determinants of the Black-White wage gap. American Sociological Review, 66(August), 542–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hacker, A. (1992). Two nations: Black and White, separate, hostile, unequal. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  13. Halle, D. (1984). America’s working man. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  14. Holzer, H.J. (1996). What employers want: Job prospects for less educated workers. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  15. Hout, M. (1984). Occupational mobility of Black men: 1962 to 1973. American Sociological Review, 49 (3), 308–322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kalmijn, M. (1996). The socioeconomic assimilation of Caribbean American Blacks. Social Forces, 74 (3), 911–930.Google Scholar
  17. Landry, B. (1987). The new Black middle class. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  18. Lee, J., Neckerman, K., & Carter P. (1999). Segmented assimilation and minority cultures of mobility. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 22 (6), 945–965.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Lichter, D.T. (1990). Delayed marriage, marital homogamy and the mate selection process among white women. Social Science Quarterly, 71, 802–11.Google Scholar
  20. Lichter, D.T, McLaughlin, D.K., Kephart G., and Landry, D.J. (1992). Race and the retreat from marriage: A shortage of marriageable men? American Sociological Review, 56, 15–32.Google Scholar
  21. Lindberg, L., Nathanson, C., Pleck J., & Wolpin, K. (1997). Integrating theoretical perspectives on gender, union formation and fertility. Washington DC: Urban Institute. Retrieved March 2, 2004, from http://fatherhood.hhs.gov/CFSForum/apenb.htm.Google Scholar
  22. Lowry, G.C. (2002). The Anatomy of racial inequality. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Lucas, S. R. (1999). Tracking inequality. New York: Teachers College Press.Google Scholar
  24. Mare, R.D. (1991). Five decades of assortative mating. American Sociological Review, 56, 15–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. McCall, L. (2001). Sources of racial wage inequality in metropolitan labor markets: Race, ethnic and gender differences. American Sociological Review, 66, 520–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McWhorter, J. (2001). Losing the race: Self-sabotage in America. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  27. Moss, P. and Tilly, C. (1996). Soft skills and race: An investigation of Black men’s employment problems. Work and Occupations, 23, 252–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Murnane, R., Willett, J. & Levey, F. (1995). The growing importance of cognitive skills in wage determination. Review of Economics and Statistics, LXVII (2), 251–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Neal, D.A. and Johnson, W.R. (1996). The role of premarket factors in Black-White wage differences. Journal of Political Economy, 104 (5), 869–895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Newman, K. S. (1985). Falling from grace: The experience of downward mobility in the American middle class. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  31. Ogbu, J. (2003). Black American students in an affluent suburb. Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  32. Oliver, M. & Shapiro, T. (1995). Black wealth, White wealth. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  33. O’Neill, J. (1990). The role of human capital in earnings differences between Black and White men. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 4 (4), 25–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Oppenheimer, V. (1994). Women’s rising employment and the future of the family in industrialized societies. Population and Development Review, 20, 293–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Patillo-McCoy, M. (1999). Black picket fences: Privilege and peril among the Black middle class. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  36. Portes, A. & Zhou, M. (1993). The new second generation: Segmented assimilation and its variants. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 553, 74–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Portes, A. and R. Rumbaut. (2001). Legacies: The story of the immigrant second generation. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  38. Qian, Z. (1998). Changes in assortative mating: The impact of age and education, 1970–1990. Demography, 35 (3), 279–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Raymo, J. & Xue, Y. (2000). Temporal and regional variation in the strength of educational homogamy. American Sociological Review, 65, 773–780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Smits, J., Ultree W., & Lammes, J. (1998). Educational Homogamy in 65 Countries. American Sociological Review, 63, 264–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Steele, C. & Aronson, J. (1998). Stereotype threat and the test performance of academically successful African Americans. In C. Jencks and M. Phillips (eds.). The Black-White test score gap. Washington DC: Brookings Institution.Google Scholar
  42. Thernstrom, S. (1997). American in Black and White: One nation indivisible. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  43. Wilson, W.J. (1987). The Truly Disadvantaged. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  44. Zhou, M. (1997). Segmented assimilation: issues, controversies, and recent research on the new second generation. International Migration Review, 31, 975–1008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Attewell
    • 1
  • Thurston Domina
    • 1
  • David Lavin
    • 1
  • Tania Levey
    • 1
  1. 1.the City University of New York Graduate CenterUSA

Personalised recommendations