The European dream is under assault, as the wave of inflation sweeping the globe mixes with this continent’s long-stagnant wages. Families that once enjoyed Europe’s vaunted quality of life are pinching pennies to buy necessities, and cutting back on extras like movies and vacations abroad.Anyone want to research whether Sweden's still "poorer than Alabama with more crime than Mississippi"?
Potentially more disturbing — especially to the political and social order — are the millions across the continent grappling with the realization that they may have lives worse, not better, than their parents.
“I have this feeling that there is a wall in front of us,” said Axel Marceau, a 41-year-old schoolteacher living outside of Frankfurt. “We’re just not going to get any further.”
His concerns are well-founded. A study by the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin found that the broad middle of the German work force, defined as workers making from 70 to 150 percent of the median income, shrunk to 54 percent of the population last year, from 62 percent in 2000. . .
To be sure, Europe’s middle class is still larger than the number of people at risk of falling into poverty — and, by many measures, more protected than the American middle class. But policy makers worry that could change as the European economy starts to feel the drag of an American slowdown and high inflation.