Changing Patterns, Persisting Logic: Racial Inequality in Young Men’s Transition to Paid Care Work Jobs

Shengwei Sun , Washington University in St. Louis

Men have slowly increased their presence in paid care work jobs that have long been considered as “women’s jobs” in the United States. This trend has taken place in the context of economic restructuring since the 1970s, with the U.S. job structure becoming polarized between “good” jobs and “bad” jobs in terms of pay and job security. The growth of paid care work jobs is characterized by racial disparity, but the mechanisms behind the racialized patterns remain unclear. Using individual-level data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 79 and 97, this study examines the determinants of entering low-paying versus well-paying care work jobs among two cohorts of young men who joined the workforce under different labor market conditions. Findings suggest changing patterns of racial inequality corresponding to larger job growth patterns since the 1980s. I argue that a persisting logic of a racialized “labor queue” underlies these changing patterns.

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 Presented in Session 9. Marriage, Family, Households, & Unions; Gender, Race, & Ethnicity