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The public debate regularly depicts the middle class as the victim of employment polarization and income stagnation. This narrative of a squeezed middle class suggests that people both above and below fared better in terms of employment and incomes.

Event details of AMCIS Seminar Daniel Oesch: The Myth of the Middle Class Squeeze
Date 29 November 2022
Time 16:00 -17:00

However, this narrative is at odds with class theory and lacks empirical evidence. Based on the Luxembourg Income Study, Daniel Oesch traced the evolution of employment and income by class for several Western countries between 1980 and 2020. 

The results show that over this period, employment of the upper-middle and middle class swelled by 10 to 20 percentage points, while the ranks of the working class dwindled everywhere. Working-class households also made consistently smaller income gains than middle-class household. Oesch his findings therefore suggest that the great economic loser of the last four decades was not the middle, but the working class.


Daniel Oesch is professor of economic sociology at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and serves as director of the Swiss Centre of Expertise in Life Course Research LIVES. He is the author of two books “Occupational Change in Europe” (2013, Oxford University Press) and “Redrawing the Class Map” (2006, Palgrave Macmillan) and has widely published on social stratification, class voting and the consequences of unemployment. His writings are available on his website

Website Daniel Oesch

This seminar is organised by the Amsterdam Centre for Inequality Studies (AMCIS) and will be fully online on Zoom