03.07.2017
| Holger Lengfeld

The Case of Status Insecurity, or: the German Middle Class as the Sensitive Center of Society. A Trend Analysis 1984–2014. New study published by Holger Lengfeld and Jessica Ordemann in Zeitschrift für Soziologie (in German).

Abstract: In the 1990s and 2000s, many studies have shown that the fear of falling increased in the German middle class. This paper analyzes how these worries developed over an extended period of 30 years. To do this, a longitudinal analysis of data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) between the years 1984 and 2014 was used. This study analyzes fears of job loss as indicative of the fear of falling on the part of a maximum of 49,102 employed people (comprising 286,049 observations). The descriptive trend analyses and random effects-ordered probit-regressions followed by a marginsplot reveal that from the beginning of the observation period up to the year 2005, the fear of job loss rose in all social classes, but was at its strongest for the middle middle class. For the period between 2006 and 2014, however, the fear of decline decreased significantly in all classes. Despite the European economic crisis of 2009, the level of fear in almost all classes at the end of the period of observation in 2014 was at the same low-point as in 1991. During this period, the level of fear fell at its greatest rate in the center of the middle class in comparison to all other classes. Our results are summarized in the conclusion, which describes the center of the middle class as a sensitive barometer of wider society.

Keywords: EGP-Class Scheme; Fear of Falling; Middle Class; Panel Analysis; Status Insecurities

Published in: Zeitschrift für Soziologie online first: https://doi.org/10.1515/zfsoz-2017-1010 and Issue 3/2017, 167 et sqq.