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International Review of Social Research

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Social Class, Life Events and Poverty Risks in Comparative European Perspective

Leen Vandecasteele
  • Eberhard-Karls University Tuebingen, Institute for Sociology, Wilhelmstraße 36, 72074 Tübingen, Germany
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Published Online: 2015-06-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/irsr-2015-0005


In this article I examine the role of social class for poverty transitions. Social class has traditionally been an important predictor of social inequalities, but it is sometimes argued that it has lost its relevance for explaining precariousness and economic risk in contemporary societies. This paper reviews the debate regarding the relevance of social class, the literature on life course dynamics as well as the tensions and links between the social stratification framework and the dynamic perspective on economic risk. In the empirical partI assess the importance of life events as predictors of poverty in combination with social stratification variables. The results show that the risk of experiencing poverty triggering life events is not equally spread across populations, but rather varies across welfare states and linked to social class, gender and education level. Secondly, random effects discrete-time hazard models in thirteen European countries show the relative importance of life course events and social stratification determinants as predictors of poverty entry.

Keywords: social class; poverty; life course; European welfare states; economic risk; individualization


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-06-30

Citation Information: International Review of Social Research, Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 61–74, ISSN (Online) 2069-8534, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/irsr-2015-0005.

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© Leen Vandecasteele. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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