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Inequality, Mobility And The Closure Of The Upper Middle-class: lessons from the recent Hungarian Social Reports

Tuesday, February 19, 2019, 5:20 pm – 7:00 pm


Hungarian society is by no means as unequal as many OECD countries. Among the more unequals one finds liberal market economies like US, liberal welfare states like UK, post transition countries like the Baltics or some of the Mediterranean countries like Spain or Portugal. However, the level of social mobility is also very low by international comparisons. Hungary, hence, is ‘off the chart’ of the "Great Gatsby curve" assuming a reverse relationship between level of inequality and degree of mobility. This should hold true even if we calculate with the survey underestimation of "true" inequality. Now, if the privileged at the top of society are increasingly getting there through marriage or inheritance rather than achievement, it indicates an important shift in the legitimacy of market capitalism and liberal democracy. The aim of the paper by Tóth and Szelényi (2019) is to investigate whether there are cleavages that predetermine who has the chance of reaching the top and where those cleavages are. From the data available to us we cannot reject the hypothesis that there is less fluidity at the top than at the bottom of the social hierarchy.

The presentation at PERG - CEU highlights the main messages of the above article. However, attention will be drawn on supportive empirical findings of other chapters of the most recent Hungarian Social Report



István György Tóth, PhD in sociology, is director of TÁRKI Social Research Institute and affiliated professor at Budapest Corvinus University. He has been co-editor of the Hungarian Social Report series since 1998. He has led a number of research projects on European comparative social structures, income distribution, social policy and demand for redistribution, and he has published on these topics in various widely quoted handbooks, research reports and journal articles.

For CV and publications: