Social Forces

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Date: 1953

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AlbertJ.Reiss, Jr.n/an/an/a, and EvelynM.Kitagawan/an/an/an/a

Demographic Characteristics and Job Mobility of Migrants in Six Cities1

This paper reports the characteristics of the migrant population and compares them with those of non-migrants in six cities: Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Paul, and New Haven. The data on migrants and non-migrants are based on a sample survey of some 4,000 to 5,000 persons 14 years and older in each of the six cities in January 1951. For the most part these persons were located in about 1,900 households in each city which were enumerated in the 1950 Census of Population and Housing. The estimates of total males and females 14 years and older are based on a combination of data from the survey and the 1950 Census. All other estimates were obtained by inflating weighted sample results to the estimates of total males and females 14 years and older.

The six cities for which findings are reported differ considerably in their occupational and industrial structure. Characteristically, Chicago and Philadelphia are referred to as mature metropolitan centers with a relatively stable population and as industrial centers with a diversified economic base where employment in manufacturing is predominant (but less than 50 per cent of all employed), while employment in wholesale and retail trade, though second in importance, is substantially below that in manufacturing. New Haven has a similar economic base, though it is much smaller in size. By comparison, San Francisco and Los Angeles are relatively young metropolitan cities with a diversified economic base where employment in wholesale and retail trade is more or less equal to employment in manufacturing and together these industries employ about one-half of all workers. St. Paul, though an older and smaller city, has a similar economic base. These differences in major economic activity are reflected in the occupational structure of the cities. Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Haven, where employment in manufacturing predominates, show a greater concentration of blue collar workers, while Los Angeles, San Francisco and St. Paul, where employment in retail trade is about equal to that in manufacturing, show a greater concentration of white collar workers. The same patterns in occupational structure hold for both men and women. However, superimposed on this pattern is the expected pattern of substantially higher proportions of white collar workers among women than among men. These structural differences among the cities help to explain certain of the migrant differentials which follow.

The rapid growth of urban centers in the United States during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was made possible by immigration, a high birth rate, and internal migration. Since the changes in immigration policy during the 1920’s, cities have increasingly relied upon internal migration and natural increase for their growth. Students of urban life have therefore turned their attention to a study of the selectivity of migration and its contribution to urban growth.

While metropolitan centers usually require some migrants in order to maintain their size, migration is greatest for rapidly growing cities where the industrial base is undergoing considerable expansion. Opportunities for such expansion occur not only under conditions of general economic growth but under specialized conditions such as wartime or emergency mobilization of the economy. The size and composition of the migrant population of cities, therefore, may be expected to vary, depending upon the size and kind of economic base, the relative age and rate of growth of the cities, the age and sex structure of their populations, and the relative mobility prevailing in their occupational and industrial structures.…

STABILITY OF POPULATION

We observe considerable variation in the residential stability of persons in the six cities. The proportion of migrants—i.e., persons who have resided in the Standard Metropolitan Area of a city less than 12 years—in the total population 14 and older varies from a high of 46 per cent in Los Angeles to a low of 13 per cent in Philadelphia.2 There is, moreover, a marked stability of residence for persons in the older industrial cities, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Haven. Over two-thirds of the persons 14 and older in these cities have resided in the Standard Metropolitan Area of the city 21 years or more. St. Paul also shows rather marked stability of residence as 59 per cent of the persons 14 and older are long-time area residents. The rapidly growing metropolitan cities of the West Coast show the least residential stability. This is more marked in Los Angeles where only 33 per cent of all persons 14 and older have resided in the S.M.A. 21 years or more than in San Francisco where 45 per cent are long-time residents. There were no significant differences in duration of residence for men and women in each city, except in San Francisco and St. Paul where there seem to be a significantly higher per cent of women than men who are migrants.

SELECTED CHARACTERISTICS OF MIGRANTS

Studies of migrations to metropolitan cities have generally emphasized that migrants possess those characteristics generally assumed to be associated with mobility. In particular they find that (1) a larger proportion of the migrants than non-migrants are in the younger age groups; (2) a larger proportion of migrants than non-migrants are in the labor force; (3) migrants more often than non-migrants tend to belong to families or households whose size indicates a relative freedom from family controls or responsibilities. Furthermore, it is usually found that cityward migration is selective of women, i.e., a lower sex ratio for migrants than non-migrants, and that the sex ratio of cityward migrants is lowest in the young adult age groups. These findings generally hold for migrants in each of the six cities.

The participation of migrants in the work force of a city is both an indication of the factor of economic opportunity in impelling migration and the adjustment of migrants to the requirements of a labor market as well as an index of their availability for recruitment into a work force. It should be remembered that migrant persons compete against non-migrants who have various claims to employment preference (e.g., seniority, experience in a local labor market, status requirements, etc.). Therefore, we would not necessarily expect high participation of migrants in the labor force relative to comparable non-migrant groups.

Examination of work status differentials of migrants and non-migrants in the six cities shows that among both men and women, migrants were more often at work than were non-migrants.… However, among men the higher work participation rates for all migrants than all non-migrants were almost entirely due to the more "favorable" age distribution of migrants insofar as providing workers was concerned. The major reason, therefore, for the relatively higher participation of migrant men in the work force as compared with that of non-migrant men is that male migrants were more heavily concentrated in age groups where work participation rates were high. The fact that differences in the age distribution of migrants and non-migrants explain these differences can be seen in a comparison of age-specific work-rates for male migrants and non-migrants.… The age-specific work-rates for male migrants are significantly higher in only one age group. In general, in all six cities, male migrants 14–24 years old were more often at work than male non-migrants of this age. This suggests that young male migrants as compared with non-migrants include a relatively larger proportion of persons who seek jobs rather than attend school. Of course, male migrants 14–24 usually include a lower proportion of 14–17 year olds who would be attending high school than do male non-migrants 14–24 years old. It is also possible that, in cities, a larger proportion of non-migrant men than migrant men 18–24 years old lead a "marginal existence" for which employment in the work force is not a requisite.

However, the higher work rates for migrant women were not entirely due to their "favorable" age distribution. Examination of the age-specific work-rates of women supports the conclusion that migrant women in each age group were more often at work than non-migrant women of the same age. This probably explains why in each city the work participation rate for all migrant women 14 and older exceeds that of all non-migrant women 14 and older by more than the work participation rate of all migrant men 14 and older exceeds that of all non-migrant men 14 and older. The marital status and family responsibilities of non-migrant women as compared with those of migrant women probably account for this somewhat higher participation in the work force of migrant women.

While migrants apparently are attracted to cities by economic opportunities, these opportunities seem to be disproportionately those offered by private employment rather than those afforded by self-employment or employment in government. In all six cities we found that private employment has the largest proportion of migrants and "own business" in general the lowest. This is probably so for a number of reasons. Migrants are somewhat younger in age and often may not possess the requisite capital to establish a private business or engage in private practice (self-employment); also, they less frequently may be aware of such opportunities as compared with local residents. Furthermore, male migrants are on the average less skilled than are male non-migrants. The findings were less clear for women.

During the 1940–49 decade there was considerable variation in job mobility of workers in the six cities and of workers in various age and migration status subgroups.3 The crude mobility rates for workers in Los Angeles and San Francisco—where workers averaged about three jobs per person during the 1940–49 decade—were higher than the crude rates in the other four cities, where workers averaged about 2.5 jobs per person.…

Also the average number of jobs held between 1940 and 1949 was considerably higher for migrants than non-migrants and considerably higher for young persons than for older persons. These age and migrant status differentials in mobility remain clearly defined even when age-migrant status-specific mobility rates are computed. That is, rates for migrants are higher than those for non-migrants even when age is held constant, and rates for young persons are higher than those for older persons even when migrant status is held constant, except for male migrants in Los Angeles, St. Paul, and New Haven where mobility varies very little by age.

Thus, it is clear that age and migrant status are independently important factors influencing the average number of jobs held during the 1940–49 decade by workers in the six cities. Since this is the case and since the proportion of migrants in the work history samples of the six cities varied considerably—for example, from highs of 47 and 35 per cent for men in Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively to lows of 15 and 13 per cent for men in Chicago and Philadelphia respectively—at least part of the differences in the crude mobility rates among the six cities may well be accounted for by differences in the migrant composition of the work history samples in the six cities. Since there are also some variations in the age composition of migrants and non-migrants in the cities, it is desirable to take the influence of age composition into account at the same time.

An "expected cases" analysis of the extent to which the largest city differences in

TABLE 1 PER CENT COMPONENTS (BY AGE AND MIGRANT STATUS) OF CITY DIFFERENCES IN MOBILITY, BY SEX: CHICAGO AND LOS ANGELES, CHICAGO AND SAN FRANCISCO, PHILADELPHIA AND LOS ANGELES, PHILADELPHIA AND SAN FRANCISCO

crude mobility rates may be accounted for by differences in their age and migrant composition has been made for selected pairs of cities—namely, Chicago and Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, and Philadelphia and San Francisco. The chief reason for selecting these four pairs of cities for the present analysis was that each pair includes two extremes with respect to crude mobility rates and also with respect to the importance of migrants in the population. That is, Chicago and Philadelphia are cities with relatively low mobility and fewer migrants, while Los Angeles and San Francisco are cities with relatively high mobility and much higher proportions of migrants.

The expected cases analysis shows that about half of the differences in 1940–49 crude mobility rates between cities with the lowest crude rates and cities with the highest crude rates can be accounted for by differences in their age and migrant composition combined (see Table 1). Among men, the per cent of the difference in crude mobility rates accounted for by age and migrant status combined varies between 41 and 65 per cent for three of the four pairs of cities included in this report—that is, 65 per cent of the difference between Chicago and Los Angeles crude mobility rates, 41 per cent of the difference between Chicago and San Francisco crude rates, and 44 per cent of the difference between Philadelphia and Los Angeles crude rates can be accounted for by differences in their age and migrant composition.

Among women, the proportion of the difference in crude mobility rates accounted for by age and migrant status combined varies from 40 per cent of the difference between Philadelphia and Los Angeles crude rates to 51 per cent of the difference between Chicago and San Francisco crude rates.

It should also be noted that it is the higher proportion of migrants in the high mobility cities which is the more important factor in accounting for differences in crude mobility rates of high and low mobility cities. Migrant status alone accounts for a substantial part of the differences in crude mobility rates—see column (3) of Table 1. However, differences in age composition alone (without holding migrant status constant), instead of being partly responsible for differences in crude rates, tend to act in the opposite direction. In six out of eight pairs of cities, the difference in mobility is slightly increased when age composition is held constant—this is the interpretation of the negative components in column (4) of Table 1.

These findings, therefore, suggest that about half of the differences between crude mobility rates of the high and low mobility cities included in the Occupational Mobility Survey can be accounted for by their age and migrant composition. That is to say, if the high and low mobility cities had the same proportions of migrants and the same age composition, then their differences in over-all mobility rates would be cut about in half. Of course, this still leaves the West Coast cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco, with higher mobility rates than Chicago and Philadelphia, though to be sure the size of the difference is considerably reduced under this assumption.

It is possible that differences in the occupational and industrial composition of these cities might account for part of these remaining differences. However, it is not unlikely that other factors are more important in this respect. For example, it may well be that the much greater relative increase in population and expansion of employment in the two West Coast cities during the 1940–49 decade as a result of the war industries located there (particularly shipbuilding industries in San Francisco and aircraft industries in Los Angeles) generally facilitated job changes and also necessitated relatively more post-war conversion in these two cities than in Chicago and Philadelphia. In this case, we would expect higher job mobility rates in these cities (since mobility for this study was defined as mean number of jobs held 1940–49) even after the influence of other population and labor force characteristics is taken into account.

1 From , 1953, 32:70–75. By permission.

2 In this study, persons who had resided in the Standard Metropolitan Area (S.M.A.) of a city less than 12 years, i.e., persons who arrived after the middle of 1939, were classified as migrants. All persons who had resided in the S.M.A. 21 years or more are called long-time residents. Although length of residence in the S.M.A. of a city was used to define migrants status, survey coverage was limited to the city boundaries so that migrants refer to 1951 city residents who moved into the S.M.A. less than 12 years previously, while non-migrants refer to 1951 city residents who moved into the S.M.A. (though not necessarily the city itself) 12 or more years previously.

3 Job mobility for this paper is defined as the mean number of jobs held by persons in a given subgroup during the 1940–49 decade. A job is defined as a continuous period of work for one employer.…

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Chicago: "Demographic Characteristics and Job Mobility of Migrants in Six Cities1," Social Forces in Principles of Sociology: A Reader in Theory and Research, ed. Young, Kimball, and Mack, Raymond W. (New York: American Book Company, 1962), Original Sources, accessed July 21, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NPMPWFHP4TBN267.

MLA: . "Demographic Characteristics and Job Mobility of Migrants in Six Cities1." Social Forces, Vol. 32, in Principles of Sociology: A Reader in Theory and Research, edited by Young, Kimball, and Mack, Raymond W., New York, American Book Company, 1962, Original Sources. 21 Jul. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NPMPWFHP4TBN267.

Harvard: , 'Demographic Characteristics and Job Mobility of Migrants in Six Cities1' in Social Forces. cited in 1962, Principles of Sociology: A Reader in Theory and Research, ed. , American Book Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 21 July 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=NPMPWFHP4TBN267.