Social policies and data

The squeezed middle class in OECD and emerging countries – Myth and reality


OECD Centre for Opportunity and Equality (COPE) and the World Bank invite you to: The squeezed middle class in OECD and emerging countries - Myth and Reality

1-2 December 2016, OECD, Paris 


© iStockphoto/ James BreyThe middle class is essential for economic growth, social and political stability of any country. Its dynamism, propensity to invest in education and to consume promotes economic growth. Its strength is positively correlated with subjective well-being. Its participation improves governance and the quality of democracy and its institutions. Debates about the decline of the middle class are evolving in many OECD countries. Middle-class households in Europe are reporting a greater difficulty to make ends meet following the global financial crisis while more than 80% of middle class Americans report to maintain their standard of living with more difficulty than a decade ago. The picture is more optimistic in emerging economies. Millions of people left extreme poverty and joined the “emerging global middle class” in countries such as China, India, Indonesia and Brazil, but many are still in vulnerable conditions and could easily fall back to less favourable circumstances.




Watch the event

Day 1

Welcome Remarks by Jean Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Canada

Session 1: Who is the Middle Class?

Session 2: Economic Growth Trust and Political Stability

Session 3: What Policies for the Middle Class?

Day 2

Session 1: Setting the Scene and Discussions

Session 2: Recent Distributional Tensions in Europe

Session 3: Distributional Tensions and the Role of Perceptions

Session 4: Distributional Tensions Towards a New Social Contract



1 December, 2016

The first day of the conference brought together an interdisciplinary group of international experts, policy-makers and stakeholders from OECD and emerging economies to gather evidence on whether, to what extent and why the middle-class is, or is perceived to be, lagging behind in many countries; what is driving the real or perceived changes in its economic performance; what is its economic and political influence and what policies work in reaching out to the middle-class. The Canadian Minister for Family, Children and Social Development, Jean-Yves Duclos gave the keynote speech and the Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20, Gabriela Ramos, opened the event.


Welcome remarks: Gabriela Ramos, OECD Chief of Staff and Sherpa to the G20


Jean Yves Duclos
Keynote: Honourable Jean Yves Duclos
(Minister of Families, Children & Social Development, Canada)


2 December, 2016

The conference was followed by a closed working session with experts from the World Bank, the European Commisssion, and the OECD – as well as academics. The challenges related to the middle class are naturally linked with other key issues including evolution of opportunity and equality, social mobility within and between generation. Importantly, what implications do distributional tensions together with perceived inequality have on the social contract. Is the social contract in crisis? And what a new social contract could look like? The session gained a deeper understanding; identified knowledge and data gaps, and started to build an inter-institutional collaboration on these topics.

  • Agenda



World Bank Logo




Related Documents