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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Death Of Social Mobility by By George Wehrfritz (NEWSWEEK)


The tigers now are finding themselves in a situation loosely analogous to that which beset the American rust belt in the 1980s, when factory towns like Detroit and Pittsburgh went into decline and a middle class built on career manufacturing jobs suffered as a result. The tigers aren't rust belts, to be sure, but as the drivers of growth have shifted away from manufacturing into various new industries and services, it's no longer possible for young entrants into the labor market with little education and few skills to land jobs that pay living wages. The new labor market is rigidly segmented: white-collar professionals occupy the top rungs of the ladder, a burgeoning service sector peopled by legions of temps and part-timers anchor the bottom, and the middle class clings nervously in between, even during periods of robust economic growth. ''As the tiger economies mature, they face economic polarization between the haves and have-nots," says Lee Jie Hoon, an economist at the Samsung Economic Research Institute in Seoul. ''Wealth inequality is like the shadow of economic growth."

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