After 25 years of improvement, opportunity through social mobility has levelled off in the United States. The association between occupational origins and destinations did not change between the first half of the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s. Detailed mobility tables from the General Social Survey show that the effect of socioeconomic origins on the socioeconomic status of women's and men's occupations in 1991-4 is at the same level found in the early 1980s. Previous research showed that class barriers to mobility fell by 30% between the early 1970s and the early 1980s.
Women's opportunities continued to improve as the women's share of professional and managerial employment grew again in the most recent period. Other important components of the association between origins and destinations did not change significantly over the 1972-94 period. Structural mobility, another key component of the mobility process, declined throughout the period. Occupational redistribution associated with the emerging postindustrial economy affected the parents of the youngest of today's workers, so the difference between origins and destinations is not as great as it was 25 years ago.