"Downward Mobility in an Age of Affluence"
Recent cohorts of upper-middle-class children have received more resources than nearly any subset of children in American history. Upper-middle-class parents earned more money, spent more money on their children, and spent more time with their children than most previous generations. These investments should allow upper-middle-class youth to easily reproduce their parents’ class position, yet downward mobility remains routine. In recent cohorts, two in five Americans born to the top income quintile fell into the bottom three. By occupation, one in three men dropped down the class ladder. By education, over one in four youth with college-educated parents did not graduate from college themselves. Drawing from panel interview data from the National Study of Youth and Religion, this talk explains how downward mobility occurs in an age of affluence. It argues that upper-middle-class youth internalize one of six different habituses, and that each is associated with different likelihoods of becoming downwardly mobile.
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