Occupational Change and Income Mobility from 1950-2006

Daniel A Long, Wesleyan University
Aaron Truchil, Wesleyan University

In the United States from the 1950s to the present there has been a dramatic change in the occupational structure: with a rise of employment in the service sector, a decline in industrial jobs, an increase of employment in the construction sector, and a dramatic increase in wages for management compared to other occupations. We examine these changes of rank and level of occupational income over time and develop a time varying socio-economic index to better model these trends. With this updated scale we estimate the changes in income mobility from 1972 to 2006 and compare these results to a model of social mobility based on the Duncan socio-economic index and model based on a fixed occupational income scale. Last, we evaluate the usefulness of occupational scales for modeling income mobility, given the changes in within and between occupational incomes over the last half of the twentieth century.

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Presented in Session 37: Social Mobility: Across and Within Generations