News Release: Finance and Economics, Research

Jun. 24,  2009

Rootless Americans Focus of New Book

'Reloville' explores lives of affluent corporate gypsies

News Article ImagePhoto by Lauren Shay Lavin

Moving every three or four years for a job is a way of life for a class of American professionals whose numbers have surged into millions with the growth of the global economy. Such periodic relocation is a track to the top of the company hierarchy, and the jobs come with high wages and generous perks. But according to a book by a journalist affiliated with Emory University, the moves can take a toll on families, who struggle with loneliness, rootlessness and lives on a merry-go-round of homes, schools, doctors and friendships.

“Next Stop, Reloville: Life Inside America’s New Rootless Professional Class” describes the lives of affluent, corporate gypsies – bright men and women recruited straight out of college for 20- and 30-year careers, bounding from town to town and routinely uprooting their families for the sake of professional success, only to end up shedding community and family ties. Author Peter T. Kilborn was affiliated with the Emory Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life (MARIAL) while he did his research.

Journalist Kilborn expands on his 2005 New York Times profile of the "Relos," rootless, mid-level executives, "an affluent, hard-striving class," mostly of men, who have “put the American dream on wheels.” They follow the money as they migrate through the suburbs of Atlanta, Dallas and Denver and onto the expatriate villages of Beijing and Bombay.

Largely immune to the economy’s cyclical booms and busts, with incomes of $100,000 to $200,000 and more per year, they roost in cloistered subdivisions segmented and stratified by income, price point and age of home, and amenities like private swim and tennis clubs. The fathers often travel for work, leaving their wives and children alone to fend for themselves.

Kilborn first heard the term Relo in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, one of the communities he profiled in his Times article and in the book. Alpharetta has one of America’s highest concentration of Relos, with 52 percent of the population having come from somewhere else, according to the 2000 Census. 

Kilborn was a reporter for The New York Times for 30 years, having covered business, economics, social issues and the workplace. He was also one of the contributors to the Times’s award-winning series and book, "Class Matters."


News Release Tools