Abstract

“New governance” reforms entailing shifts toward privatization have permeated the public sector over the last decade, possibly affecting workplace-based attainments. We examine the consequences of this reform for African American men, who during the civil rights era reached relative parity with whites. We analyze race-based inequities on one socioeconomic outcome–downward occupational mobility–among professionals, managers and executives. Results from a Panel Study of Income Dynamics sample indicate that the “new government business model,” characterized by increased employer discretion has disproportionately disadvantaged African Americans. Narrower racial gaps in the incidence, determinants and timing of downward mobility found in the public sector, relative to the private sector, during the pre-reform period (1985–90) eroded during the reform period (2002–07) because of widening racial gaps in the public sector.

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