chapter  7
256 Pages

Earning a Living

ByGlen H. Elder

This chapter determines whether and how the aspects of adult experience are linked in the lives of the Oakland men to family background in the Depression, defined by class origin and economic deprivation. Growing up in the Depression, for boys who felt its impact, meant exposure to the uncertain aspects of earning a living. The chapter suggests that the Oakland men were born at a favorable time relative to the Depression; they were too old to be highly vulnerable to family misfortune and too young to enter the adult marketplace of marriage and work when economic conditions were most depressed. Change in the organizational structure of American society since the beginning of World War II, a change some analysts have described as radical and even revolutionary, is reflected by career lines in the Oakland cohort. The time at which the Oakland boys left high school stands out as a critical factor in their life opportunities and accomplishments.