Downward Mobility

Wapo reports on some startling findings from three reports released by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Nearly half of African Americans born to middle-income parents in the
late 1960s plunged into poverty or near-poverty as adults, according to
a new study — a perplexing finding that analysts say highlights the
fragile nature of middle-class life for many African Americans.

Overall, family incomes have risen for both blacks and whites over
the past three decades. But in a society where the privileges of class
and income most often perpetuate themselves from generation to
generation, black Americans have had more difficulty than whites in
transmitting those benefits to their children.

Forty-five percent of black children whose parents were solidly middle
class in 1968 — a stratum with a median income of $55,600 in
inflation-adjusted dollars — grew up to be among the lowest fifth of
the nation’s earners, with a median family income of $23,100. Only 16
percent of whites experienced similar downward mobility. At the same
time, 48 percent of black children whose parents were in an economic
bracket with a median family income of $41,700 sank into the lowest
income group.

SNIP

“There is a lot of downward mobility among African Americans,” Mincy said. “We don’t have an explanation.”

SNIP

Mincy and others speculated that the increase in the number of
single-parent black households, continued educational gaps between
blacks and whites and even racial isolation that remains common for
many middle-income African Americans could be factors.

7 thoughts on “Downward Mobility

  1. mrstrailerco says:

    It’s not just African-Americans that are experiencing this. My dad is 1st generation middle-class. I’ve gone backward at a startling rate, and my college degree has not helped. I’m facing forclosure on both my personal and business property and there is no help in sight for me. When my mortgage company re-did by “financials”, they found that I came up 2k short every month – not enough for them to change the terms of my loan. When the lein holder on my business property offered to bail me out, it was to the tune of 10% interest. Of course I’m “welcome” to seek another loan, which no one will give me because of my low income. I’m eligible to pay all the taxes and all the fees anyone dreams up. But I’m not eligible for any of the breaks. This must be the new definition of middle-class.

  2. Deb says:

    My Master’s has helped me to earn less money than I did in the eighties and people don’t want to hire me because i’m “overqualified”. I’m a medical professional, not a businesswoman, a point that was not made clear until I was deeply in debt with school loans for a profession that few people respect and if they do, they don’t know how to choose so they end up going to quacks.
    All three of us kids have college degrees and all of us are doing worse than my dad. It makes me wonder why I tried. If one more person tells me that I have to “pay my dues”, I’m going to go bonkers. I’m 51, when will I have paid enough?

  3. MapleStreet says:

    Hillary Clinton has an advertisement in which she aptly describes the modern middle class as being a “trap door” – the middle class is just one random door swing away from an illness or other cause of insolvency.
    How much worse will this be with gasoline rising? A shop owner told me this weekend that the price of his hot dog buns just went up 25% – ostensibly because of the rise in corn prices (diversion to ethanol?). Price of meat is up (because of the price of corn?). He gave a figure that I haven’t chased down yet that 55 cents of every dollar at McDonalds goes to the price of corn. (Look at the prevalence of high fructose corn syrup in almost everything).

  4. Arled says:

    The comments above reflect the reality of middle class america. No longer are kids better off than their parents. More often than not, parents are forced to assist their children in getting over difficult economic situations. With African American middle class families, I think the safety net is even more fragile because of bigotry and the resultant barriers that African Americans face in the marketplace. It also depends a lot on extended family and what their situation is. Middle class families that have extended family ties and potential financial fall back with extended family are on a much better footing than first time middle class families.

  5. pansypoo says:

    oh, where’s you guys work ethic! just get more work!
    i love how the rite tells us all you need in that 40 hours and you will be fine.
    bott straps seem to be attached to concrete blocks these days.

  6. anonymous says:

    I will agree that African Americans are not the only ones suffering downward mobility(other minorities,indigenous peoples and whites suffer as well. Nevertheless the process appears to be much more conspicuous among African Americans; and probably more tractible in some cases. With that said,worsening economic condition and downward mobility across the board is highlighting the reality that the so-called “American Dream” is a fraud! I personally have felt that way for a while, but events prove this more and more everyday! I, too, am tired of the quackery the rightwing and lite right-leaning democrats spew about all being well with folks if they just “lift themselves by their own bootstraps”,”have initiative”, “work hard” and other such NONSENSE. The one thing that I admittedly do partly agree on is that people make things worse on themselves by overconsuming to some extent;hence,not practicing thrift. But I can only get with agreeing with that only to a point because everything cost so much(and is further rising in cost), so many accepted institutions are designed to rip people off,products made are not made to last that long(so they got to be bought all the timeif you can’t fix them), every medium promotes the same overspending they decty, and even if folk should put more priority on financial literacy(make a little time to learn)-this is a subject of relevance that could have been taught in school!

  7. anonymous says:

    I will agree that African Americans are not the only ones suffering downward mobility(other minorities,indigenous peoples and whites suffer as well). Nevertheless the process appears to be much more conspicuous among African Americans; and probably more tractible in some cases. With that said,worsening economic conditions and downward mobility across the board is highlighting the reality that the so-called “American Dream” is a fraud! I personally have felt that way for a while, but events prove this more and more everyday!
    Which is why I, too, am tired of the quackery the rightwing and lite right-leaning democrats spew about all being well with folks if they just “lift themselves by their own bootstraps”,”have initiative”, “work hard” and other such NONSENSE. The one thing that I admittedly do partly agree on is that people make things worse on themselves by overconsuming to some extent;hence,not practicing thrift. But I can only get with agreeing with that only to a point because everything cost so much(and is further rising in cost), so many accepted institutions are designed to rip people off,products made are not made to last that long(so they got to be bought all the time if you can’t fix them), every medium promotes the same overspending they decry, and even if folk should put more priority on financial literacy(make a little time to learn)-this is a subject of relevance that could have been taught in school!

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