Please join us for a colloquium being given by Kim Weeden, Professor of Sociology at Cornell University.
The New Geography of American Dreams
In America’s many lands of opportunity, children’s chances for upward mobility differ according to where they grow up. This paper begins with the premise that in order to understand spatial variation in the viability of the American Dream, we need to revisit spatial variation in Americans’ dreams. Using data from students who graduated from high school in 2004, we show that teenagers’ occupational plans are strongly associated with the type of community in which they attend school and the opportunity structure of the local labor market. The place-plans match is especially strong for boys who grow up in rural areas and in heavily blue-collar communities. Preliminary findings also reveal spatial variation in the match between occupational plans and early career outcomes.