Jasmine Hill is a writer, educator, organizer and Ph.D candidate in Sociology at Stanford University. She is a National Poverty Fellow at the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality and co-editor of Inequality in the 21st Centurywith David B. Grusky (Westview Press 2017). Her dissertation aims to shed light on mechanisms creating and prohibiting Black social mobility. She also writes about the relationship between the Black middle class and their low-income family members. Before graduate school she worked as a non-profit consultant on issues related to the school-to-prison pipeline and domestic violence. She currently lives and collects data for the dissertation in the Greater Los Angeles area.
Dissertation Description: Escaping poverty is difficult in America, particularly so for African Americans. How might Black Americas born to low-income families improve their economic position? Since World War II, Americans have increasingly responded to the mobility question with one answer: higher education. Still astronomical increases in the cost of college and persistently low rates of college attendance among African Americans demand alternative pathways into the middle class, beyond the four-year college degree.
This dissertation seeks to understand available upward mobility pathways for low-income Black adults without college degrees. What strategies do Black opportunity seekers perceive and deploy to gain access into the middle class? What challenges do Black opportunity seekers face? What factors facilitate movement into the middle class?
Data for the project comes from analysis of nationally representative surveys on income and occupations. Additionally, through in-depth interviews, the project follows a cohort of Black high school seniors without four-year college plans during their first year on the job market to explore challenges they face and their evolving perspectives on opportunity.