Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Barrios to Burbs

Jody Agius Vallejo, Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican-American Middle Class (Stanford University Press, 2012). 

Vallejo provides us with a straightforward look at middle class Mexican American life and the process of its formation, through a combination of extensive interviewing and analysis. 

Vallejo's main focus is interesting, but for the purposes of this post, let's also consider American socio-economic class income and status in general.

Barrios to Burbs lays out the basic criteria and markers for defining middle class, or middle income. My variant response is that any three of the following four attributes will do the trick:

~~ College education (at least one member of the household).
~~Household income above national US median:  $50,221 in 2009. 
       (Closer to $55,000 in 2015.) 
~~White collar job or any-size business ownership.
~~Home ownership. 
       (Vallejo, p. 5).

Vallejo's conclusions about the Mexican American middle class include the following statement: "While some achieve rapid intergenerational mobility through business ownership, the majority in this study enter the middle class through the occupational advances that follow higher education." (p. 183).  

It's interesting because 2016 Republican presidential contender Senator Marco Rubio --  in Vallejo's terms, a 2.0 generation Cuban American -- advocates vo-tech, i.e. vocational-technical education, as does Democratic President Barrack Obama, who might be considered a 2.5 generation American. Obama advocates for all types of education, including vo-tech, community college and four year colleges and universities. 

American socio-economics are changing by generation. After the Great Recession of 2008, the importance of home ownership has declined in some spheres (at least culturally), while the idea of white collar jobs may also be morphing into other possibilities. Finally, it seems to me that one must cross-check household income with per capita income to locate a better sense of socio-economic class. For instance, a household of one to three people living within the means of a $55,000 household income threshold must be less challenging in terms of daily tradeoffs than a household of more than four or five people under the same roof, with that same household income.

As far as upper income levels, the top ten percent to the top one percent, one might consider a household income baseline of $500,000 per year. 

The poverty  line is a household income of about $25,000 per year, and a "living wage" is considered to be about $30,000 per year. 

Going into 2016, there is a perfect set-up for the clash between hiking the minimum wage and "trickle-down" economics, in which leftover pocket change falls from the upper income classes like pennies from Heaven. 

p.s. Everything is subject to change. Anyone trying to stop time is doomed to fail. Too, anyone trying to speed up time may be disappointed by the actual pace of things.

Today's Rune: Fertility. 


Charles Gramlich said...

Yes, I think there are a lot of factors affecting that median income level. Disposable income is an important element.

the walking man said...

Nationally $350,000 is in the upper 10%.

In MI the median wage is slowly catching up to the national median but we are still at least $3-$4,000 below but one of the highest taxed states in the nation, 45th behind Alaska #1 best in the nation. And we have more taxes in the pipeline as well as double digit increases to insurances which are already highest in the country. Governor Dick has decimated the middle here and working to squeeze the juice from the skin.

Hispanic populations are not ready yet to move from the SW Detroit enclave to the burbs yet. I am though, but not to the burbs I am ready to just leave the state--had enough. Oddly enough even after the city raped me, on paper i make well above the MI median being retired but still am totally squeezed by all levels of government here as well as having to buy non assisted health insurance for the old lady. There is no future for anyone but the 10% here anymore or those clawing their way into it.

jodi said...

Erik-There are a lot of Mexican descent people in Port Huron. I don't know what attracts them. Also in New Baltimore, Michigan.