It is widely believed that job insecurity in industrial societies is on the increase. In particular, several studies have argued that the job insecurity of the (higher) middle class has substantially risen in the eighties and nineties. In this article the question whether or not this is true is investigated. The effect of job insecurity on union membership is also looked at. To answer the research questions we use survey data of 1992, 1994, and 1996. We only use data about workers in paid employment working at least 11 hours a week. The job insecurity of the workers is measured with three indicators: 1) actual unemployment; 2) perceived job insecurity; 3) numerical flexibility. According to these indicators job security in the Netherlands is still substantially high. However, especially the perceived insecurity and the numerical flexibility have slightly risen in the 1992-1996 period. Contrary to our expectations, job security of the higher middle class is still relatively high compared to the working class. However, our data also show that the job (in)security of the lower middle class seems to be converging with the working class. Our findings show that job insecurity has only minor – and mostly statistically insignificant - effects on union membership. Moreover, numerically flexible workers less often join a union than workers with a more secure labour contract. However, it is important to note that with respect to union membership members of the middle class – contrary to expectations put forward in the literature –do not react differently on job insecurity than members of the working class.

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Department of Public Administration

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