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The Disappearance of the Middle Class: A Closer Look

The Disappearance of the Middle Class: A Closer Look

 

June 17, 2024

 

By now, many acknowledge that the middle class has disappeared, but they often understand it in an abstract way. Let me illustrate the disappearance of the middle class with a concrete example.

In most societies, the teacher serves as the benchmark for the middle class. A teacher used to earn a satisfactory salary, allowing them to afford a good house, a car, and recreational activities. They looked forward to their next vacation and could afford trips abroad. This person was content, which often translated into a happy family life. They had leisure time for hobbies and played a crucial role in social life, guiding youth in sports, arts, and music. On top of that, he enjoyed a high social status, even belonging to the notables of the village.

This idealized teacher no longer exists. For years, salaries and working conditions for teachers have not been adjusted to keep up with inflation and the increasing demands placed on them. The role of a teacher has become much more burdensome, with increased attention to students' mental health issues, among other challenges. As a result, the concept of a stable, content middle class has vanished.

The absence of a middle class has far-reaching implications. For the lower class, there is no longer a target to aspire to, and there is no clear path to a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle. Society has become polarized, with a stark divide between the poor and the rich. For many, the only perceived paths out of poverty are becoming a professional athlete, an artist, or engaging in transnational crime.

To address this issue, we must first acknowledge the critical role that a healthy middle class plays in society. It provides a stable foundation, offers aspirations for the lower class, and supports social and cultural development. Rebuilding the middle class requires investing in education, ensuring fair wages, fighting corruption, and creating opportunities for all to thrive. Can we only hope to bridge the gap and create a more equitable society?


Miguel Goede

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