David McWilliams: Expansion of the middle class is Ireland’s biggest feat

Class is more fluid here than elsewhere, implying greater equality of opportunity

Whether it is cool or not to admit, the middle class provides political ballast to a country, preventing lurches to the extremes. Photograph: iStock

Whether it is cool or not to admit, the middle class provides political ballast to a country, preventing lurches to the extremes. Photograph: iStock

When it comes to celebrating the Republic – 70 years old this weekend – the most significant socio-economic achievement of the State has been the gradual but relentless expansion of the Irish middle class. It might be deeply unfashionable to champion the growth of the civic bourgeoisie, but the expansion of the middle class is a profoundly positive accolade.

In contrast to many western countries that are seeing their middle classes shrink, the data tell us something we know already when we compare our lives with our parents’ lives and their parents’ lives: Ireland’s bourgeoisie is in rude health.

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