Intercohort shifts between 1962 and 1972 in the occupation distributions of white and nonwhite men are analyzed and compared at ages 35–44, 45–54, and 55–64. Both white and nonwhite occupation distributions were upgraded over the decade, but among nonwhites the shifts away from the lowest-status occupations were expressed partly in increasing rates of absence from the labor force. There are indications of especially rapid shifts in the occupation distributions of nonwhite men at ages 35–44. Among whites and nonwhites intercohort shifts in the occupation distribution can be attributed primarily to changing patterns of movement from first full-time civilian jobs to current occupations, rather than to changing occupational origin distributions or patterns of movement to first jobs. The white and nonwhite occupation distributions did not show a clear pattern of convergence over the decade. They became less similar at ages 35–44 and more similar at older ages. White and nonwhite distributions were most likely to converge in those occupation groups where the share of whites was stable or declining, rather than in groups whose share of the occupation distribution was increasing. Later cohorts of nonwhites would have a much more favorable occupational distribution if they had enjoyed the mobility patterns of whites in earlier cohorts. In 1972, as in 1962, the inferior occupational chances of nonwhites are due primarily to their disadvantageous patterns of occupational mobility, rather than to impoverished social origins.

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