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More Universalism, Less Structural Mobility: The American Occupational Structure in the 1980s

Michael Hout
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 93, No. 6 (May, 1988), pp. 1358-1400
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2780817
Page Count: 43
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More Universalism, Less Structural Mobility: The American Occupational Structure in the 1980s
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Abstract

The association between men's and women's socioeconomic origins and destinations decreased by one-third between 1972 and 1985. This trend is related to the rising proportion of workers who have college degrees. Origin status effects destination status among workers who do not have bachelor's degrees, but college graduation cancels the effect of background status. Therefore, the more college graduates in the work force, the weaker the association between origin status and destination status for the population as a whole. Overall mobility remains unchanged because a decline in structural mobility offsets the increased openness of the class structure. Upward mobility still exceeds downward mobility in the 1980s but by a smaller margin than it did in the 1960s and 1970s.

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