On the radio today, All Things Considered did a little “Brief History of the Middle Class.” Apparently, according to Pew Research center, a family is in the middle class if its income is between about $47k/yr and $141k/yr. They also have breakdowns of wealth (if you are in net debt, you are not middle class) and consumption.
My own definition middle class has more to do with economic security than it does with wealth, income, or many types of consumption. To wit:
If you do not need to worry about food, housing, transportation, health care, education for your children, and safety, and can look forward to a retirement with those same basic needs satisfied, and you are not at risk of losing any of those things immediately on some negative shock, like an accident, negative diagnosis, or loss of job, then you have achieved middle class status. My definition doesn’t have anything to do with iDevices, high speed Internet, vacation or dining out.
It’s tricky, because I think a lot of people who do have nice things, like fancy cars, and big houses, don’t actually have solid economic security. I don’t know if they’re middle class or not.
What do you think the definition of middle class should be?