Abstract

Women in the United States have made significant socioeconomic advances over the last generation. The second generation of post-1965 immigrants came of age during this “gender revolution.” However, assimilation theories focus mainly on racial/ethnic trajectories. Do gendered trajectories between and within groups better capture mobility patterns? Using the 1980 decennial census and the 2003–2007 Current Population Survey (CPS), we observe the socioeconomic status of Latino and Asian immigrant parents and their second-generation children 25 years later. We compare the educational, occupational, and earnings attainment of second-generation daughters and sons with that of their immigrant mothers and fathers. We simultaneously compare those socioeconomic trajectories with a U.S.-born white, non-Latino reference group. We find that second-generation women experience greater status attainment than both their mothers and their male counterparts, but the earnings of second-generation women lag behind those of men. However, because white mainstream women experienced similar intergenerational mobility, many gaps between the second generation and the mainstream remain. These patterns remain even after we control for parenthood status. With feminized intergenerational mobility occurring similarly across race, the racial/ethnic gaps observed in 1980 narrow but persist into the next generation for many outcomes. Both gender and race shape mobility trajectories, so ignoring either leads to an incomplete picture of assimilation.

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