New research, looking at the stress endured by families in the recession, says our new economic reality is far more complex than the notion of the “squeezed middle”.
The study was carried out by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). It examined the impact that pre-recession socio-economic factors had on the stress levels of households with children between the years of 2008 and 2012.
“The analysis shows that the reality is more complex than either the ‘class polarisation’ or ‘middle-class squeeze’ hypotheses would suggest,” reads the ESRI report.
The study found that families towards the bottom of the “socio-economic hierarchy” were the worst impacted by the recession.
“While stress levels increased substantially across the board, the largest increases in absolute percentage point terms were observed towards the bottom of the social class and income hierarchies and for lone parents,” says the report.
It also found economic stress was far more pervasive among households with children. With lone-parent families or families at the lower end of the socio-economic scale experiencing the biggest impact in terms of economic stress, the ESRI’s report has raised concerns about childhood poverty.
“Given evidence of the consequences of childhood poverty, this raises serious concerns not just about its immediate impact but also its long-term consequences,” states the report. The research, in its conclusion, looked to the future in relation to wage bargaining.
It said that during the boom, trade unions were able to engage with the Government to secure a deal supporting welfare expansion accompanied by tax cuts and rising disposable income.
However, recent efforts to do the same have come under criticism.
Professional groups were listed as the most vocal critics of these trade union negotiations.
The report states that, as a result of this new opposition, there is now a ‘formidable’ challenge when it comes to maintaining social cohesion and political legitimacy.
It referred to the results of the last general election to back this is up.
You can read the full report here.
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