Economic Stress and the Great Recession in Ireland: The Erosion of Social Class Advantage

  • Christopher T. Whelan University College Dublin
  • Brian Nolan University of Oxford
  • Bertrand Maître Economic and Social Research Institute, Dublin
Keywords: recession, class, Ireland


In this paper we address the issue of whether the Great Recession in Ireland led to increased social class polarisation in the experience of economic stress. Rather than observing polarisation, we find evidence for ‘middle class squeeze’ involving the self-employed and a significant erosion of the advantages associated with the higher social classes. These outcomes derived primarily from a weakening of the degree of association between social class and income class and a reduction of the buffering effect of social class within the lower income classes. By 2012 social class had no impact on economic stress net of income class.