9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS13 Re-Assessing Class in Contemporary Sociology

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Structuring Class: Perceptions, Mobility and Difference Building I, 1E11

Increasing upper and lower classes - shrinking middle class?

Increasing upper and lower classes - shrinking middle class?
- Are there signs for new boundaries in society? -

Concerning society as divided into several classes we observe an increasing gap between low and high classes in Germany. Particularly this development holds for the last 20 years. Thus more people become poor and even more people become affluent. But what happens to the middle class?
On the one hand results show, that the middle class is shrinking because changes in educational and labour market factors wich causes a high risk of downward mobility. On the other hand it is widely known, that Germany is an aging society and that the classic family structure deteriorates. Within these societies the aging coefficient shows an increase of the elderly population. In general wealth grows over labour life and also higher class position are usually reached in higher ages. Thus there maybe not a "new" boundary between the class, but even a development based on demographic factors. Therefore we witness two contradicting explanations, why the middle class is shrinking.
The hypotheses will be tested for the 1980s, the 1990s and the middle of the first decade in the new century. We use regression models and all calculations based on the German "Socio Economic Panel" (SOEP) and on a new data set called "Vermögen in Deutschland" (ViD) where the people of the upper class are especially sampled.