By the 1980s, Dominican society no longer consisted of a small landed elite at the top and a huge mass of peasants at the bottom, with almost no one in between. In large part, as a result of the economic development and modernization that had occurred since the end of the Great Depression, a sizable middle class, constituting 30 to 35 percent of the population, had emerged.
The middle class consisted of shopkeepers, government officials, clerks, military personnel, white-collar workers of all kinds, teachers, professionals, and the better paid members of the working class. Most of the middle class resided in Santo Domingo, but secondary cities like Santiago, Barahona, Monte Cristi, La Romana, San Francisco de Macorís, and San Pedro de Macorís had also developed sizable middle-class populations.
The middle class, not the oligarchy, had come to predominate within the country's major political institutions: the Roman Catholic Church, the military officer corps, the government service, the political parties, interest groups, and even the trade union leadership. However, the middle class was often divided on social and political issues. Generally, its members advocated peace, order, stability, and economic progress. It backed Balaguer in the late 1960s and the early 1970s because he was thought to stand for those things that the middle class wanted; later it supported the PRD governments of Guzmán and Jorge for the same reason. The middle class used to support authoritarian governments because it thought they would best protect its interests; in the 1980s, however, the middle-class consensus generally supported democracy as the best way to preserve stability and to sustain development.
|Country Studies main page | Dominican republic Country Studies main page|