This dossier provides an overview of international trends that pose threats and present opportunities for the European middle classes. Although the focus is on the European context, to provide a good overview of the global trends that impact on this group, it is important to connect the knowledge of the European context with theory and research on middle-class development from all around the world. In the literature, there is an increasing interest in the rising middle classes in emerging countries. And much research has also focused on the squeezed middle class in the United States. But what exactly is happening in Europe is less clear. How are Europe’s middle classes developing differently than their counterparts in the United States and emerging countries? And what are the differences within Europe itself?
This dossier will seek to answer these questions by looking at the three main drivers behind the dynamics of the middle class: economic globalization, automation and social policies. Economic globalization (e.g. trade openness and financialization) and technological change (automation) are significant international forces that present opportunities for some but not for all groups in society. Social policies on the other hand can help the middle class adapt to new circumstances and prevent them from falling back into poverty. In general, policies that affect the middle class can be classified as redistribution (tax credits, benefits, pension funds, social protection, cash transfers) or predistribution (through inclusive growth and systemic change).
Together these three drivers will impact on employment opportunities and inequality. As such, this dossier is a continuation of previous dossiers on Inequality and Employment, in which The Broker already identified main international trends that affect the creation of employment and quality jobs, and increase income inequality in most parts of the world, combined with the debate on equality of opportunities. This dossier goes further by focusing on trends affecting the middle classes, particularly in Europe.
Here you can find an introduction to all the articles in the dossier. We hope you enjoy reading them and invite you to share the contents with others, comment on the articles or contribute by submitting an expert opinion.
The much-debated squeeze of the middle class in Europe is real, but very different from country to country.
New jobs have been created mainly for the lower and the upper segments of the labour market. Can jobs be created for the middle classes without embracing pro...
As technology advances, automation will affect a growing number of European jobs. The conventional view that better education and skills are the solution wil...
Technology is likely to substantially reshape labour markets in the future, dramatically altering the kinds of skills that middle-class workers will need.
Occupational change in itself cannot explain the decline of the European middle class. But it could be a threat to its sociopolitical foundations
Robots have long been part of the world around us, but soon there really will be no avoiding them – when they no longer only work for us, but also with us.
The Broker had the pleasure of interviewing Nancy Birdsall, president of the Centre for Global Development, at the EADI conference. She has often asked herself who you call middle class?