Pilar González, António Figueiredo

Inequality, Labour Market and Income Distribution in Portugal: What is Happening with Middle Classes?

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The relative backwardness of the Portuguese economy represents a useful basis to revisit the role of the middle classes in processes of change. Using a predominantly economic representation for the middle classes, our analysis shows that, in recent times, Portuguese middle-income individuals have featured substantial resilience in terms of their capacity to access an increasing share of national income (only slightly interrupted by a more stable trend since the crisis). This appears to contradict the widespread view that the current crisis is undermining the middle classes more than other groups. However, we also show that relative changes are only part of the story of a country that, 30 years after joining the EU, remains in a low-income trajectory and that, as one of the outcomes of the recent crisis, is further impoverishing.

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