the migrants' subsequent lack of economic mobility

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Senior Member
Official Guide to the GMAT(Graduate Management Admission Test)

It has been frequently assumed, but not proved, that the majority of the migrants in what has come to be called the Great Migration came from rural areas and were motivated by two concurrent factors: the collapse of the cotton industry following the boll weevil infestation, which began in 1898, and increased demand in the North for labor following the cessation of European immigration caused by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. This assumption has led to the conclusion that the migrants' subsequent lack of economic mobility in the North is tied to rural background, a background that implies unfamiliarity with urban living and a lack of industrial skills.

What is being said in the bold part?
  • Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    migrants = people who move from one area to another eg from rural to urban living.

    economic mobility = movement from one type of employment to another (eg from farm worker to factory worker.
    In some contexts "economic mobility" and "social mobility" refer to vertical movement eg from manual labour to supervisory or professional roles.

    in the North = in the North of England.

    the migrants did not easily change from rural occupations such as farm workers to urban occupations such as factory workers. The reason for this was that rural workers were unfamiliar with industrial settings and conditions and lacked the skills needed in the factories, such as ability to operate machinery.


    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    In AE, "economic mobility" doesn't mean moving from one type of employment to another. It refers to the ability to move (upward) from one socioeconomic class/level to another.


    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I'm pretty sure the passage is about rural labourers in the United States, not England, Linkway. I agree with Parla that it's mobility from low-paying to higher-paying jobs.
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