, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 497–509 | Cite as

Economic mobility of young workers in the 1970s and 1980s

  • Greg J. Duncan
  • Johanne Boisjoly
  • Timothy Smeeding
Labor Force


This paper uses longitudinal data to estimate cohort changes in the earnings trajectories of young adult males. Levels of earnings are uniformly lower for male workers turning 21 between 1980 and 1991 than in 1970-1979, although rates of earnings growth are roughly comparable. Among males turning 21 before 1980, six in 10 (60%) of all men and seven in 10 (71%) college-educated men attained earnings levels by age 30 that were at least twice the poverty level. Corresponding fractions for workers turning 21 between 1980 and 1991 were considerably lower (42% and 56%). Recent cohorts from all demographic subgroups appeared to have more difficulty than older cohorts in attaining middle-class earnings.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Greg J. Duncan
    • 1
  • Johanne Boisjoly
    • 2
  • Timothy Smeeding
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute for Policy ResearchNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  2. 2.University of Quebec at Rimouski Timothy SmeedingUSAUSA
  3. 3.Syracuse UniversityUSA

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