Middle-class financial struggles do not add up to a crisis, says report

The Dutch middle classes don’t have it so bad, says the WRR.

The Dutch middle class is holding its position despite coming under increasing financial strain, a government think-tank has concluded.

A new report titled The Fall of the Middle Class?, published on Thursday by the independent government policy think tank WRR, found that many of the alarmist projections for the middle class did not square with reality. Although members of the middle classes are having to work harder, they are at less risk of lapsing into poverty than in the past.

‘The predominant thing we see is stability when we examine the educational, professional and income position of the middle class in the Netherlands,’ the report said.

The WRR said that nearly 80% of Dutch households are middle class, roughly the same percentage as in 1990. Just over 12% are reckoned to be in the lower income class, with the remainder in the top income category. Both these segments are also stable, the report said.

Middle class households are defined as those earning between 60% and 200% of median income.The WRR said members of these households are having to work harder to avoid dropping out of the middle class under current uncertain conditions.

The stable picture in the Netherlands contrasts sharply with that in the US, where the independent Washington-based think-tank Pew Research Center said the proportion of middle-class Americans fell below 50% in 2015.

In 1971 nearly 66% of Americans were considered to be in that category, judged by roughly the same criteria as those used by the WRR. The US underclass meanwhile has expanded by four percentage points to 29%. Pew said.

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