The New Emerging Black Middle Class: The Love Jones Cohort

Kris Marsh, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Philip N. Cohen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Lynne M. Casper, University of Southern California

Studies of the black middle class typically focus on married households with children. Currently, however, although the black middle class is growing, marriage among blacks is declining. This discrepancy points to the emergence of a new black middle class, composed of never-married, childless professionals living alone. Borrowing the title of a popular film, we dub this group the Love Jones Cohort. To measure this cohort’s middle class status, we created an index using income, education, occupation, and homeownership. We then used cross-sectional, cohort, and regression analyses to determine that while the Love Jones Cohort is not yet comparable in size to black-middle-class-married households, the cohort is comprising a growing proportion of black middle class households. Furthermore, in most cases, over time, the rate of growth of the black middle class is comparable for middle class couples and those in the Love Jones Cohort. Young never-married black women are an especially fast-growing segment of the black middle class. Recognizing the Love Jones Cohort requires rethinking the way that the black middle class is conceptualized and studied.

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Presented in Poster Session 1