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Structural Constraints and Individual Career Earnings Patterns

Robert Nash Parker
American Sociological Review
Vol. 46, No. 6 (Dec., 1981), pp. 884-892
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2095085
Page Count: 9
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Structural Constraints and Individual Career Earnings Patterns
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Abstract

The impact of recurrent economic cycles of recession and boom on individual earnings over time has been neglected in sociological research. Five hypotheses are derived which predict relationships between individual earnings and periodic economic fluctuations, as measured by the unemployment rate, for workers in general and for workers in certain social structural locations, defined by education, economic sector, union membership, and race. Results from spectral analyses indicate that periodic economic fluctuations constrain earnings in general over the short term--that is six to seven months. The importance of social structural location is underscored by the finding that those in more advantaged structural locations have earnings patterns which are not related to changes in the unemployment rate, while those in less advantaged structural locations have earnings patterns which are strongly related to changes in the unemployment rate. Both black and white earnings patterns are related to periodic economic fluctuations.

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