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The Shrinking German Middle Class: Signs of Long-Term Polarization in Disposable Income?


  • Markus M. Grabka
  • Joachim R. Frick


The proportion of middle income earners in Germany has shrunk significantly in recent years: from 62 percent of the total population in the year 2000 to only 54 percent in 2006. Correspondingly, the proportion of the population at the margins of the income distribution has increased as well, while the downward mobility among the middle class was more marked than the upward mobility in higher income strata. In line with the changes in the objective income situation, significant changes have also been seen in subjective perceptions: across all income strata, we find that people's concerns about their personal economic situation have increased.

Suggested Citation

  • Markus M. Grabka & Joachim R. Frick, 2008. "The Shrinking German Middle Class: Signs of Long-Term Polarization in Disposable Income?," Weekly Report, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 4(4), pages 21-27.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwrp:wr4-4

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    Cited by:

    1. Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M. & Groh-Samberg, Olaf, 2012. "Dealing With Incomplete Household Panel Data in Inequality Research," EconStor Open Access Articles, ZBW - German National Library of Economics, pages 89-123.
    2. Frick, Joachim R. & Grabka, Markus M., 2009. "Accounting for Imputed and Capital Income Flows in Income Inequality Analyses," IZA Discussion Papers 4634, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Gründler, Klaus & Köllner, Sebastian, 2017. "Determinants of governmental redistribution: Income distribution, development levels, and the role of perceptions," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 930-962.
    4. Bernard Michael Gilroy & Julia Günthner, 2017. "The German Precariat and the Role of Fundamental Security - Is the Unconditional Basic Income a Possible Solution for the Growing Precarity in Germany?," Working Papers CIE 109, Paderborn University, CIE Center for International Economics.
    5. Ilaria Petrarca & Roberto Ricciuti, 2015. "Relative income distribution in six European countries: market and disposable income," LIS Working papers 629, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    6. Giuseppe Bertola, 2010. "Inequality, integration, and policy: issues and evidence from EMU," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 8(3), pages 345-365, September.
    7. Steffen Dyck & Syetarn Hansakul & Rachna Saxena, 2009. "Emerging Asia's Middle Class-A Force to be Reckoned With," Working Papers id:2232, eSocialSciences.
    8. Anthony B. Atkinson & Andrea Brandolini, 2011. "On the identification of the “middle class”," Working Papers 217, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    9. Akaev, Askar & Sarygulov, Askar & Sokolov, Valentin, 2012. "The Formation of the Middle Class as a Way to Overcome Economic Inequality (Analyzing the International Experience)," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, pages 102-117, October.

    More about this item


    Income Inequality; Middle Class; Poverty;

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty


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