Black Men Falling Out of the Middle Class?

The Pew Economic Mobility Project finds that, for men, race affects the likelihood of downward mobility.


Growing up middle class is no guarantee of maintaining the same status as an adult, according to a report released today by Pew’s Economic Mobility Project. Downward Mobility From the Middle Class: Waking Up From the American Dream reports on findings that a third of Americans who grow up as members of the middle class eventually "fall out" of it.

"Middle class" Americans are defined as those between the 30th and 70th percentiles of the income distribution. Erin Currier, project manager of the Economic Mobility Project, says, "A variety of factors, including family background and personal choices," influence the downward mobility that takes people out of that range.

Race is a factor, too, but only for men. Not surprising to anyone familiar with the pervasive stereotypes, unequal access to criminal justice and negative media imagery that black males of all income levels must navigate, the researchers found that 38 percent of black men fall out of the middle, compared with 21 percent of white men. In contrast, white, black and Hispanic women are equally likely to drop out of the middle class.

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