Downward mobility of women from white-collar employment: Determinants and timing by race

George Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This study uses data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to assess the minority vulnerability thesis, which maintains there are racial differences among women in the determinants of, and timing to, downward mobility from white-collar employment. In accord with the theory, a racialized continuum emerges along both issues. The route to downward mobility for African Americans is relatively broad based and unstructured by traditional stratification-based causal factors, that is, human capital, background socioeconomic status, and job/labor-market characteristics, and they are quickest to experience downward movement. The route to downward mobility for whites is relatively narrow and structured by stratification-based causal actors, and they are the slowest to experience downward movement. Along both issues, Latinas occupy an intermediate position between African Americans and whites. Implications of the findings for understanding of racial inequality in white-collar employment are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-401
Number of pages20
JournalSociological Forum
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Downward mobility
  • Gender
  • Occupations
  • Race
  • Racial stratification
  • White collar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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