Fear of job loss: Racial/Ethnic Differences in Privileged Occupations

George Wilson, Krysia Mossakowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Sociologists have not attempted to explain the causes of higher levels of perceived job insecurity among racial/ethnic minorities than those of Whites in privileged occupations. This study examines two possible explanations for this finding among White, African American, and Latino professionals and managers. The first emphasizes the discrimination-induced, structural marginality experienced by minorities in the workplace (the marginalized-worker perspective), and the second emphasizes learned dispositions—i.e., fatalism and mistrust—that are brought to the workplace (the dispositional perspective). Using data from the General Social Survey (GSS) and ordered probit regression analyses for both men and women, our findings provide greater support for the marginalized-worker perspective. Results reveal African Americans and Latino men and women have a greater fear of job loss than their White counterparts, regardless of their human capital credentials (e.g., education, work experience) and job/labor market advantages (e.g., job authority, job autonomy, unionized status, favorable market sector). Along these lines, these traditional, stratification-based predictors provide greater insulation from perceived job insecurity for Whites than racial/ethnic minorities. Less support is found for the dispositional perspective: one disposition—fatalism—is associated with greater fear of job loss for African American men and women compared to Whites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-374
Number of pages18
JournalDu Bois Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Inequality
  • Occupations
  • Perceived Insecurity
  • Race
  • Workplace

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Fear of job loss: Racial/Ethnic Differences in Privileged Occupations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this