Evert-jan Quak is now Research Officer for the K4D Programme at the Institute of Development Studies. Evert-Jan was a freelance knowledge broker for The Broker on the themes ‘Inclusive Economy’ and ‘Food Security’. Over his career, he has specialized in international economics, corporate social responsibility and trade issues. Evert-Jan is the author of the book Het onzichtbare label (‘The invisible label’), in which he tackles the question of why current corporate social responsibility policies do not seem to work. Evert-Jan has a degree in international economics and economic geography from the University of Utrecht. He has a mixed professional background, both as a journalist and a policy advisor in international development.
The middle classes in Europe are struggling to improve their living standards. As this dossier shows, the European middle classes are moving apart and cannot be helped by seeing them as a homogenous group. Some are still moving upwards, but many are not moving at all or are even falling downwards as they struggle to find jobs, get mortgages, and benefit from the welfare state.
Linking precarious work to the debate on income inequality shows that precarious work not only affects the ‘losers’ of globalization, but also the ‘winners’.
It is a political choice to allow the spread of insecure employment conditions, for example by deregulating the relationship between employers and employees. It is also a political choice to reverse this trend, but one that requires a broader understanding of the global economic context in which policy decisions have to be made. And this should be a concern for all, not only for the ‘losers’ of globalization. Increasing job insecurity and low wages have a negative impact on macroeconomic development and growth. (This is a discussion paper in preparation for the FNV Mondiaal conference on precarious work on 27 and 28 November 2014. Download the report as a PDF file.)
The EADI conference has closed its doors. What the conference has shown us is that the debate on inequality and the rise of the middle class in developing countries opens many windows of opportunity to reframe development and development policy as a universal issue.