Holding Fast to a Dream: Estimating the Probabilities of Class-Vulnerability and Class-Security among the American Middle Class

Ashon Bradford, Cornell University
Eric Williams, Arkansas State University

The middle class has become increasingly vulnerable over the last 30 years for a number of reasons, which in part has compromised their capability to hold on to the American Dream. Still, we know very little about what proportion of the middle class is vulnerable. Utilizing household and family data from the (PSID), this paper uses survival analysis to assess the odds of experiencing class-vulnerability and/or class-security among the American middle class. My results indicate that through major stages of adulthood, over 90 percent of individuals in the middle class will experience either economic event. Results also indicate that the risk of experiencing either economic event is dramatically stratified by race and education. While income may purchase a ticket into the middle class, this research shows that the lack of economic assets or net worth is leaving the American middle class very vulnerable to economic shocks.

  See paper

Presented in Poster Session 3