The Socioeconomic Intergenerational Mobility of Post-1965 Black Immigrants and Second Generation Relative to a Black Mainstream

Megan Benetsky, University of Maryland
Julie Park, University of Maryland

The children of post-1965 black immigrants grew up during a time of mass immigration and the post-civil rights era. Some argue that African Americans have made substantial socioeconomic strides, while others maintain a black/non-black divide in which blacks anchor the bottom. The socioeconomic context in which African Americans are coming of age is the same faced by second-generation blacks. This paper examines the socioeconomic trajectories of second-generation blacks and whether they follow the path of or diverge from African Americans. The second generation are observed in 2005 and compared to their parents in 1980 at similar ages. Intergenerational mobility is measured across generations, and is relative to the mobility of the black mainstream. Immigrants had higher attainment levels than the black mainstream in 1980. The second-generation blacks experienced only modest mobility while the black mainstream experienced marked mobility. Gender differences emerged, as second-generation women outpaced men’s educational and occupational attainment.

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Presented in Session 190: The Children of Immigrants in Comparative Perspective