The ‘Vanishing’ Middle Class: Evidence and Explanations

In the late 1980s, a considerable body of literature was emerging about the so-called “vanishing” middle class. Studies by Bluestone, Harrison and others raised the issues of deindustrialization and a growing low-wage economy.

In this paper from 1988, the author reviews the issues and evidence, and explores nine possible explanations: the baby-boom effect, changes in family composition, more working women, labour’s falling income, traditional business cycle effects, a trade-based industrial shift, deindustrialization, industrial relocation and increased part-time work.

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Immigrant Earnings Differentials and Cohort Effects in Canada

The relationship between immigration flows and the labour market became very topical in both the United States and Canada in the mid-1980s. Major articles in such forums as The New York Times, Science, and the Journal of Economic Literature, the 1986 enactment of the Immigration Reform and Control Act in the United States, and revision of the Canadian immigration legislation signaled an active debate in both countries on how to adjust immigration policy to the situation of the 1980’s.

This paper reviews Canadian immigration policy and experience between World War II and the 1970’s, and examines changing immigrant characteristics for this period. The 1973 Job Mobility Survey is used in the analysis to examine what has happened to immigrant earnings differentials in Canada leading up to the 1970’s.

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