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Middle Class Size in the Past, Present, and Future: A Description of Trends in Asia

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Abstract

This paper describes the size of the middle class in developing Asia across countries and over time. Based on an absolute measure of the middle class of $2–$20 (2005 purchasing power parity United States dollars), it finds that between 1990 and 2008, the size of the middle class in developing Asia has grown dramatically in percentage share, absolute size, and purchasing power. However, there are large variations in the size and growth of the middle class across countries, with the primary growth of the middle class largely driven by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Considerably smaller growth has occurred in many countries including Nepal and Sri Lanka. Still, a large portion of the middle class residing in the $2–$4 range are extremely vulnerable, and many of the poor in Asia remain in the PRC and India. This suggests that it may be good for policymakers to not only focus on countries that have lagged behind in terms of growth of the middle class, but that it should also concern itself with focusing on countries where there is still considerable room to build, and bolster the absolute size of the middle class in Asia.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Asian Development Bank in its series ADB Economics Working Paper Series with number 217.

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Length: 39 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ris:adbewp:0217

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Related research

Keywords: inclusive growth; developing Asia; middle class;

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Cited by:
  1. Durr-e-Nayab, 2011. "Estimating the Middle Class in Pakistan," PIDE-Working Papers 2011:77, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
  2. Kapsos, Steven & Bourmpoula, Evangelia, 2013. "Employment and economic class in the developing world," ILO Working Papers 485512, International Labour Organization.
  3. Ncube, Mthuli & Shimeles, Abebe, 2013. "The Making of Middle Class in Africa: Evidence from DHS Data," IZA Discussion Papers 7352, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Andy Sumner, 2012. "The Buoyant Billions: How “Middle Class” Are the New Middle Classes in Developing Countries? (And Why Does It Matter?)," Working Papers 309, Center for Global Development.
  5. Huynh, Phu & Kapsos, Steven, 2013. "Economic class and labour market inclusion poor and middle class workers in developing Asia and the Pacific," ILO Working Papers 482296, International Labour Organization.

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