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Being “Middle-Class” in Latin America

Francesca Castellani () and Gwenn Parent

No 305, OECD Development Centre Working Papers from OECD Publishing

Abstract: This paper joins the debate on the size of the middle class in Latin America, analysing its structure and characteristics. The paper investigates inter-class mobility potential and its evolution over time in the case of selected countries. As a result of the estimations, we find that Latin American countries have smaller middle classes than OECD countries. Moreover, this comparison shows that, while middle-class upward mobility potential is not very different, middle class resilience is higher in OECD countries. This suggests that particular attention should be paid to mitigating the impact of economic reversal on middle-class families, as they are more vulnerable to falling into poverty. This analysis provides a tool to identify the features of the middle class that need to be promoted by policy makers to foster middle-class resilience and enhance its stabilising role in society. Ce papier rejoint le débat sur la taille de la classe moyenne en Amérique Latine, en étudiant sa structure et ses caractéristiques, ainsi que le potentiel de mobilité et son évolution dans le temps dans un groupe de pays de la région. L’analyse démontre que la classe moyenne dans les pays d’Amérique Latine est plus petite que celle des pays de l’OCDE. Néanmoins le potentiel de mobilité à la hausse de la classe moyenne ne montre pas de différences importantes. Malgré cela, elle exhibe un risque plus élevé de retomber dans la pauvreté, dévoilant l’importance d’une politique publique en faveur de la classe moyenne.

Keywords: Amérique latine; classe moyenne; inequality; inégalité; Latin America; middle class; mobilité sociale; resilience; résilience; social mobility; vulnerability; vulnérabilité (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: I32 O10 O12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hme and nep-lam
Date: 2011-10-20
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