It won’t be news to readers of The Spectator that one of the long-term effects of globalisation is the hollowing out of the middle class. In a study of wage growth in ten advanced economies published a few years ago, the Resolution Foundation found that median pay lagged behind growth in GDP, with the gap between the middle class and the highest-paid growing and the gap between them and the lowest-paid shrinking.
The phenomenon is particularly pronounced in the US. There, the top 10 per cent of income earners have seen their share of national income increase since the 2007-08 recession, while the remaining 90 per cent have seen their share fall, with middle-income groups hit the hardest.
This trend was all too apparent in the Austrian ski resort where Caroline and I spent last weekend thanks to the hospitality of a generous friend. I went to St Anton for a week in 1990 and, while it wasn’t exactly Southend-on-Skis, there were a few middle-class families dotted about, mainly taking advantage of package deals. You’d spot them on the cable cars, wolfing down packed lunches so they could avoid spending money in the restaurants. Occasionally you’d see them arriving and departing in large estate cars with GB stickers on the back and their lovingly-maintained skis strapped to the roof. The point is that it was still possible 30 years ago for mid-ranking professionals to go skiing, provided they did it on a budget. It now feels as if those days are gone. (To read more, click here.)