Inequality and the Middle Class Lab

The lab looks into the institutional, political and economic dimensions of inequality and studies the social mobility and prospects of different social groups.



Lab Leader:

PhD Students:

Sagit Azari-Viesel
Amit Loewnthal

Dr. Sami Miaari, Department of Labor  Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences

Research Projects:

The middle class in OECD countries: between mobility and vulnerability. 

Ph.D. Student Sagit Azari-Viesel
Research conducted by one of the BMI Fellows in the Department of Public Policy - Sagit Azari-Viesel on the middle class in OECD countries: between mobility and vulnerability. It is crucial to note that Sagit has made tremendous project in her research ever since she first presented it on the BMI session in Helsinki, Finland. This time she focused on the fall in middle class in OECD countries for the past 10 years. Her research under Professor Itai Sened provides valuable insight into understanding the middle-class phenomenon.
In particular, it seems to have established quite clearly the exact origin and effect of the damage caused to the middle class by the sharp transition from the previous, welfare state structure of the economy, to the current, mega corporation structure of the global economy: What the middle class needs to survive and what the poor need in order to be upward mobile, are not higher incomes but improved access to education which lead to higher occupation, pension and higher capital values.   Employment and shelter may be necessary conditions but certainly not sufficient to maintain middle class membership. In the past, the institutional structure of the welfare state played a critical role in defending the wellbeing of the middle class.  Institutionalized privileges and property rights in the access to accessible education, pension, and housing will have to be restored and protected in order to bring this engine of economic growth to run again.

The Political Economy of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Ph.D. Student Amit Loewnthal
This research aims to provide insight on the role economic inequality plays in political conflicts, and to contribute towards setting policies for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other conflicts’ resolutions. Many political conflicts, violent and non-violent, from the Arab Spring to Brexit, are attributed to economic grievance, a global phenomenon of political radicalization in an environment of rising intra-country inequality and economic resentment by people feeling left behind. Existing studies focused only on cross-country analysis, and did not directly study the effect of economic inequality on political radicalization. My dissertation is the first to address these issues. It analyses the conflict-inequality nexus within the scope of a single political entity, using the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in itself one of the longest lasting political conflicts, as a case study of great significance. Using a unique combination of datasets on Palestinian socioeconomic condition and public opinion, the research studies the relationship between economic inequality and political conflict by examining two novel causes to Palestinian radicalization: wage inequality, and financial support by charitable organizations affiliated with political factions. It also seeks to examine how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict affected an important determinant of both economic development and de-radicalization – gender equality. Specifically, gender equality in the labor market, as expressed by gender wage gaps.