Immigration and Social Mobility
In the last forty years, the proportion of immigrants in America has increased to about13% of the total population. The majority of migrants enter the US today with lower levels of “human capital” than US citizens, placing them at a disadvantage in competingfor fewer and fewer higher prestige, higher income jobs. For intergenerational mobility tooccur, the children of migrants must overcome barriers to assimilation, their low ascribedstatus, as well as fewer opportunities in the economy. In particular, mass migration hascreated ethnic enclaves with their own independent economies that act to limitopportunities for upward mobility.
The rate of upward social mobility in the United States was steady until the late 1970s. Ithas been declining in the past few decades as economic growth has slowed or evenstalled (principally in the late 1990s). This stalled growth has led to a decline in the proportion of middle-income and high skill workers in favor of a growth in the servicesector resulting in a decrease in the opportunities for upward mobility. In inflation-adjusted terms, men born after 1960 are earning less than their fathers' generation did atthe same age. An increase in economic inequality during this period can be linked to awidening gap between wages of skilled and unskilled labor.
Income Disparity, Inequality; poverty; stratification;.
Further readings and references
Birdsall, N. 2000.
New Markets, New Opportunities?: Economic and Social Mobility in aChanging World
. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press.Borjas, G. J. 2006. “Making It in America: Social Mobility in the Immigrant Population.”
Future of Children
, 16(2), 55-71.Haveman, R. and Smeeding, T. 2006. “The Role of Higher Education in Social Mobility.”
Future of Children
. 16 (2), 125-150.