The ‘Vanishing’ Middle Class: Evidence and Explanations

Labour Relations

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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