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Miller et al. find benefits of Medicaid for pregnant mothers in 1980s carry over two generations

Starr's findings account for some of the 19% black-white gap in federal sentencing

Frey says suburbs are aging, cities draw millennials

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Bailey et al. find higher income among children whose parents had access to federal family planning programs in the 1960s and 70s

U-M's campus climate survey results discussed in CHE story

U-M honors James Jackson's groundbreaking work on how race impacts the health of black Americans

U-M is the only public and non-coastal university on Forbes' top-10 list for billionaire production

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Mon, Jan 22, 2018, noon: Narayan Sastry

Graph of black and white single-parent families

Persistent and changing disadvantage and the black-white family income gap

4/28/2015 feature story

Deirdre Bloome looks at the relative effects of intergenerational disadvantage and period-specific demographic and economic shifts on black-white family income inequality over the past 40 years.

More Information.

Deirdre Bloome

Publication Information:

Bloome, Deirdre. 2014. "Racial Inequality Trends and the Intergenerational Persistence of Income and Family Structure." American Sociological Review, 79(6): 1196-1225. PMCID: PMCID4598060.

Racial disparity in family incomes remained remarkably stable over the past 40 years in the United States despite major legal and social reforms. Previous scholarship presents two primary explanations for persistent inequality through a period of progressive change. One highlights continuity: because socioeconomic status is transmitted from parents to children, disparities created through histories of discrimination and opportunity denial may dissipate slowly. The second highlights change: because family income results from joining individual earnings in family units, changing family compositions can offset individuals' changing economic chances. I examine whether black-white family income inequality trends are better characterized by the persistence of existing disadvantage (continuity) or shifting forms of disadvantage (change). I combine cross-sectional and panel analysis using Current Population Survey, Panel Study of Income Dynamics, Census, and National Vital Statistics data. Results suggest that African Americans experience relatively extreme intergenerational continuity (low upward mobility) and discontinuity (high downward mobility); both helped maintain racial inequality. Yet, intergenerational discontinuities allow new forms of disadvantage to emerge. On net, racial inequality trends are better characterized by changing forms of disadvantage than by continuity. Economic trends were equalizing but demographic trends were disequalizing; as family structures shifted, family incomes did not fully reflect labor-market gains.

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