Maume and Wilson’s study primarily focuses on intragenerational mobility for two groups of individuals: baby boomers and millennials (35). According to the article, baby boomers launched their careers in the 1980s; a time when corporations used contingent employment alongside deindustrialization to lower costs of labor and decrease work security. On the other hand, millennials entered the labor market in the decade beginning in 2000. It was a period when deindustrialization and contingent employment had matured and the privatesector job growth was polarized at the tails of the occupational distribution, while the public sector was struggling to match employment practices at the individual enterprises. Even though the study explores intragenerational mobility for two groups, it acknowledges the fact that intergenerational mobility has been studied more frequently.
The first reason the article gives is that intergenerational mobility is of concern as it indicates the relative importance of ascription and achievement in ultimate attainment unlike intragenerational mobility (Maume and George 36). The second, more attention is dedicated to intergenerational than intragenerational mobility because the former is needed in today’s society.Nowadays there is growing evidence that employers in the new economy are no longer interested in providing secure employment and decent pay for their workers, which is in contrary to the situation in the past where many workers experienced lifelong employment with rising wages. The third, intragenerational mobility is less studied due, in part, to its stricter data requirements. In other words, whereas intergenerational mobility can be easily measured in a cross-sectional survey, intragenerational mobility is measured only with longitudinal data.
This study, in its exploration of intragenerational mobility, uses longitudinal data and asks two research questions. The first is whether the wage mobility has significantly slowed in early adulthood for more recent labor market entrants. The study selects this question because of the perception that early adulthood is the most critical time in the course of life when young individuals embark on their careers and set conditions they should attain later. The second research question is whether work histories associated with employment relations in the new economy are more consequential when it comes to determining mobility for the millennial than boomer cohorts (Maume and George 36).
The key finding of the study is that baby boomers have a greater intragenerational mobility than their millennial counterparts. In line with this, the study argues that in comparison with baby boomers millennial men suffer wage stagnation in their early careers and fewerof them enjoy rapidly growing wages over their careers (Maume and George 61). The reason for this argument is that during their time, baby boomers were represented by unions, which fostered their upward wage mobility, whereas millennials experience an erosion of manufacturing employment alongside employer’s efforts to weaken unions making it hard to enjoy upward wage mobility (Maume and George 57). Another reason why baby boomers have a greater intragenerational mobility than millennials is that the last experience employment patterns characterized by more part-time jobs, increased employer turnover, as well as employment in low-end services, all of which have stronger impacts on entering low-wage careers for millennials than their baby boomer counterparts. Moreover, the study postulates the fact that the employment patterns in the new economy are sufficiently diffuse and widespread therefore they have stronger effect on the career mobility of millennials than that of baby boomers.
Maume, David J., and George Wilson. “Determinants of declining wage mobility in the new economy.” Work and Occupations 42.1 (2015): 35-72.