jueves, 8 de octubre de 2015

American Dream:the self-employed middle class is far smaller than we often assume.

The Fading American Dream of Working for Yourself


We Americans pride ourselves on being entrepreneurial, and praise for the start-up culture that created Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb and other global success stories is a staple in the media. But the data paints a much different picture: when the self-employment rate is compared among the 34 wealthy countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the U.S. comes in dead-last at 6.6 percent. Germany and Japan both have self-employment rates above 11 percent.; Italy and South Korea have rates above 25 percent.

Last time I checked, The American Dream was not “working for someone else.”

One common way to define the middle class is in terms of self-employment and the ownership of one’s work. As Marian Kester Coombs wrote recently, “Economically, the middle classes were once proprietors, self-employed owners of property and their own labor.” In Coombs’ analysis, “Middle class is not an income level but a material relationship to society,” specifically, ownership of one’s labor and income-producing capital: “the key middle-class elements (are) independence, self-sufficiency, ownership, entrepreneurship, and real social power.”

So how many of America’s labor force of 147 million are both self-employed and middle class? We can throw around vague definitions and get nowhere, or we can dig into hard data. Are you game for the data dig?


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