What is the middle class?

How do you define the middle class and even more importantly once you have a definition how would you measure the growth of the middle class?

What is the middle class?

So, what is the “middle class”? Perhaps it is easier to start with what the middle class isn’t rather than what it is … the middle class isn’t based on the following:

  • Demographics, anyone can be middle class.
  • Gender, the middle class isn’t gender specific.
  • Geography, the middle class can live anywhere.
  • Race, anyone can be middle class.
  • Social status, possibly but, how could you measure it?

How do you measure growth of the middle class?

I think there is a single unbiased metric that can measure and test the growth/contraction of the middle class and that magical metric is income. Perhaps a better description than middle class from an economic perspective would be middle income. Middle income strips away all of the fluffy notion of social status and provides us with a quantifiable measurable metric for the purpose of determining progress with respect to economic policy aimed at improving the “Middle Class”.

If a metric derived from income in a given area is increasing then it is fairly safe to assume that the economic prosperity for that area is also increasing. If the income metric is declining then there is a good chance that the wealth and prosperity of the area is also in decline.

If you want to measure the success of economic policy targeting growing the middle class, then tracking average income or a similar metric for an area is a good place to start.

Ian Graham