Everything You Need To Know About The Middle Class
Not so long ago, most people viewed the hallmarks of success as something along the lines of a house, a white picket fence, two weeks vacation, two children, and the ability to send those kids to college. Today, the middle class is a vanishing breed, according to nearly every survey and statistic on the topic.
Despite all of the attention to the subject, defining “middle class” remains a challenge, as everyone wants to be in the middle regardless of their income. Instead of focusing on the dollars, let's take a look at the six lifestyle benchmarks that define the middle-class status
The economist Robert Solow noted that “there is no shortage of talk about the middle class”—and that was 10 years ago. Concern about the fate of the middle class is now almost universal. But there is nothing approaching a universal definition. There is a kaleidoscopic range of definitions of the middle class, from a wholly subjective set of aspirations to a highly specific measure of household income, and everything in between.
Disagreements over who counts as middle class are not merely scholarly quibbles. It is difficult to describe the condition and challenges of the middle class without some clarity about who comprises the group in question. The crucial questions we need to answer are: why are we analyzing the middle class and its shifting fortunes, what are the main challenges they face, and how can the quality of life of the middle class be improved? All of this requires a reasonably clear idea of who we are talking about.
This doesn’t mean slavishly adopting only one narrow criterion, to be used at all times. In the final analysis, any definition of the middle class will be more or less arbitrary. But it does mean identifying the middle class with sufficient precision to be able to accurately measure progress, as well as develop and assess the policy. For scholars, the value of any definition depends on the question they are trying to answer.
The middle class is a class of people in the middle of a social hierarchy. Its usage has often been vague whether defined in terms of occupation, income, education or social status. The definition by any author is often chosen for political connotations. Modern social theorists—and especially economists—have defined and re-defined the term “middle class” in order to serve their particular social or political ends.
Within capitalism, the middle-class initially referred to the bourgeoisie; as distinct from the nobility, then with the further differentiation of classes as capitalist societies developed to the degree where the ‘capitalist' became the new ruling class, the term came instead to be synonymous with the petite bourgeoisie.
The common measures of what constitutes the middle class vary significantly among cultures. On the one hand, the term can be viewed primarily in terms of socioeconomic status. One of the narrowest definitions limits it to those in the middle fifth of the nation's income ladder.
A wider characterization includes everyone but the poorest 20% and the wealthiest 20%. Some theories like “Paradox of Interest”, use decile groups and wealth distribution data to determine the size and wealth share of the middle class.
What Is The Middle Class?
The middle class is a social, economic and political classification grouping people or entities in the middle of a hierarchy or system, who are usually considered to be members of the upper-middle, middle-upper, or lower-middle class. The phrase ‘middle-class' has been used historically to refer to the broad group of people with either a significant level of education or income. Economists define them as those who fall between the upper and lower classes.
They are often contrasted with working-class people. Economist Jeffrey Sachs defines the middle class as those individuals who have enough money or assets that they can maintain a certain standard of living regardless of circumstances beyond their control like unemployment, illness and aging.
The term middle class is used to describe a group of people who have a moderate amount of wealth and financial stability. The definition can vary based on the author, but in general, the middle class are people who are in between the upper-class (the rich) and the lower-class (the poor). Middle-class individuals typically work hard for their money and try to provide a stable life for themselves, their families, and friends.
There are two main ways that one can become part of the middle class: by having an income or by living in a country with high social mobility. In countries with low wage inequality, like Sweden or Norway, there is less chance of someone becoming part of the middle class without an income.
Even though they may not make much money, they still do not fall into poverty because there is more opportunity for them at society’s higher levels. For example, as stated in “What Is Your Social Class?” published by Forbes Magazine, “If you were born into poverty in America today you have only about a 10 percent chance of climbing out of it over time – if you’re lucky enough to be born into it – something that wasn’t true even 40 years ago when it was almost certain you could end up rich. But that doesn’t mean that some people don't get ahead in America today.”
The Rise Of The Middle Class
The term “middle class” emerged in the 19th century, when late-19th century sociologist Thorstein Veblen argued that capitalism created new social classes that were neither capitalist nor working class. In the United States, the middle class began to emerge as a major economic force in the 1920s.
In 2016, there were roughly 68 million people in the US who identify themselves as belonging to the middle class. This is about one-third of all individuals in America and represents a significant increase from 2000 when only about 50 million Americans identified themselves as members of the middle class.
As of 2010, the proportion of Americans who were in the middle class was 53%. The middle class is composed predominantly of salaried white-collar workers and small business owners. About 12% of the population are members of what has been called “the precariat”, an emerging global “middle-class” that often lives from paycheck to paycheck.
The term “middle class” was first used in the United States in 1949 by political scientist C. Wright Mills, who referred to a group of privileged Americans who had not inherited wealth but managed to attain upward social mobility through education or hard work. Mills saw this as a relatively new phenomenon that arose with industrialization and the emergence of a service economy.
The History Behind The Middle Class
The middle class in the United States has existed since its inception. The upper-lower classes were not clearly defined until the introduction of a broad middle-class category. In the late 19th century, and into the early 20th century, the term “middle class” referred to white-collar workers who were neither rich nor poor.
They had enough money to buy some luxuries, but not so much that they lived in poverty. It was during World War II that this middle-class began to be divided into two categories: the working class and the professional/managerial class (or the bourgeoisie).
The United States government recognized that it needed educated professionals and skilled labourers to produce weapons and supplies for military personnel—hence, this new distinction emerged.
Who is the middle class? The middle class was originally a class that emerged in Europe during the 18th century when there was a dramatic rise in capitalism. As early as the mid-18th century, the term “middle class” had been used to refer to a social and economic layer of society between the upper and lower classes, or a social category between bourgeoisie and proletariat.
The term became current in England around 1849 where it was used to describe those who were neither poor nor rich. By contrast, in sociology and economics, it has been used as recently as 1960 to denote an intermediate stratum of society comprising salaried employees who are neither rich nor poor but who maintain a stable standard of living.
The Future Of The Middle Class
The future of the middle class is uncertain. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that in 2043, they will be a minority group in the United States. They predict that the American middle class will become a minority as high-income Americans continue to increase faster than households earning less than $30,000 per year.
In order to combat this trend, the middle-class must stop relying on income and education as their primary defining characteristics and focus more on status through their occupation or social status.
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The future of the middle class is uncertain and depends on how the current economic system evolves. With the increase in wealth inequality, it is growing more difficult for those in the middle class to maintain positions as they have in previous decades.
Some have suggested that with the advent of automation and robotics, there will be a decrease in jobs available to people in this class, while others point out that this has been happening since at least 1800.
The most recent study by Pew Research Center shows that both men and women are leaving their traditional careers for part-time work or self-employment. One thing is certain: The middle-class will continue to decline if they do not adjust their spending habits.
Middle Class Around The World
The middle class is a globally ubiquitous phenomenon, with significant variations in its size across different nations. In 2006, the World Bank defined middle-class households as those individuals living on less than two times (in real terms) the national median income.
In Europe, the middle class is generally defined as a household's ability to purchase enough food and other necessities for an active and healthy life. In North America, the middle class is typically defined as people whose annual household income falls between 80% and twice that of their country's median income.
The middle class is very diverse and can range from those living in poverty to those living in the world's most affluent nations. In many countries, the middle class includes a significant % of those who are considered upper-middle or even upper class by global standards.
In contrast to the U.S., it is rare for someone to be classified as middle class in Japan, where there is not a mandatory division between rich and poor and no welfare system that would provide support for the poor. Some other countries with a large percentage of their population being classified as middle-class are Singapore, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Italy and South Africa.
The United States has a high percentage of citizens who are considered working-class when compared to Japan, but America also has a high percentage of people who are considered upper-middle-class or above when compared to much of Europe and Asia (partially due to having one of the lowest levels of income inequality among OECD nations).
Home ownership is a goal for many Americans. In the United States, about 70 percent of homes are owned by homeowners. Owning a home is seen as security and stability. It's seen as a necessary investment in order to achieve the American Dream.
The middle-class is home to people who will typically own a home, have a family, have an above-average income and education level. The middle class has been defined as those with incomes that are between two and three times the minimum wage (about $50,000 – $100,000 annually) in the United States. One of the most important characteristics of the middle-class is that they usually do not borrow money or take out loans to purchase goods like cars and homes.
If you want to know what it takes to make it in this world or how much it costs, then you're in luck because becoming a member of the middle-class doesn't come easy. It takes hard work, determination, and perseverance.
1. Associate With People Who Are Successful
You need to surround yourself with positive people who are supportive of your endeavours. You'll learn from their successes and failures so you can apply their methods for success into your life.
2. Increase Your Income
In order of importance for becoming part of the middle-class is increasing your income. If you increase your income then that means you can afford more things like a nicer car and better housing making it easier for you to climb up the social ladder while also having more disposable income than most other members of society.
Owning A Car
A car is a type of vehicle-powered by an internal combustion engine, which propels the car and transforms its chemical energy into heat, to be transformed into mechanical. The cars in the contemporary Western world are largely driven by gasoline or diesel fuel and have either two or four wheels.
If you want to ever buy a new car, you will need to be able to afford one. And with that in mind, it’s important for you to understand how much your monthly income will cover. With this information in hand, you can start saving for what you need and make sure that buying a new car is something that is attainable for you right now.
The vast majority of people in the United States have access to a car. It can be used for many things, but one of the main ones is getting around. This means that owning a car is very important in our society and can make your life much easier.
A College Education For The Kids
If you have children, you should be proud that they are going to college. This is something that a lot of parents have a hard time understanding. It’s not just about the money or status; it’s also about the skills your child can acquire from college that will help them in their future career.
Some of the skills gained from college include:
- Proficiency with technology
- Business acumen
- Communication skills
- Cultural adaptation and understanding
- Critical thinking and analytical skills
When it comes to the middle class, there's a lot of insight to be found. Many people imagine that if they're well off financially, their children will probably have a college education waiting for them when they graduate from high school. But what if your family isn't so wealthy? Are you still on track to give your kids the best chance at success in life?
You don't necessarily have to have money to invest in your kid's future life. In fact, studies show that children with parents who earn less than $75,000 per year are more likely to go on to attend and graduate from college than children whose parents earn more than $150,000 per year. This study is especially important considering 60 percent of college students say financial constraints prevent them from achieving their educational goals.
Retirement security is one of the top worries for Americans. However, for middle-class families, concerns about retirement security are not always warranted. Using data from a study from the Journal of Retirement, it was found that middle-class families have more than twice as much wealth as poor families by age 65 and, in general, the median wealth is twice that of poor families.
If you're in the U.S., retirement security is a concern. That's because many people are not able to save enough for their old age, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median income for all workers is $40,000 and the average worker has saved just $18,500. This is where the middle-class comes in.
They have more money than most people, but they also have more expenses such as paying off loans or mortgages and other expenses that come with living in an expensive country such as America. It's hard for them to save anything significant because they don't know how much they will be needing to live off of when they retire.
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In today's society, the middle class is the most prosperous. They are the ones in between the poor and rich. They have homes, cars, and retirement plans. They have a college education for their kids. The middle class is the backbone of America.
The middle class is a social class that contains those who fall between the upper class and the lower class. It is difficult to define what exactly constitutes the Middle Class but some key features are earning enough money to support a middle-class lifestyle, owning a home and having a college education for their children. The rise of the middle class is one of the most significant social changes in the last 100 years and it impacts every single person in every single country in the world.
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