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Down and Out or Up and In? Polarization-Based Measures of the Middle Class for Latin America

  • Guillermo Cruces

    (Centro de Estudios Distributivos, Laborales y Sociales (CEDLAS) - FCE - UNLP, CONICET, e IZA)

  • Luis Felipe López Calva

    (The World Bank)

  • Diego Battistón

    (Centro de Estudios Distributivos, Laborales y Sociales (CEDLAS) - FCE - UNLP, y CONICET)

This document presents a systematic review of empirical approaches to the identification and measurement of the middle class as the concept is used in the applied literature. It then presents an arguably less arbitrary definition of the middle class which is based on sound principles of distributional analysis and derived from income polarization measures. The document illustrates the differences between the existing approaches and the proposed methodology with a comparative analysis of the extent and evolution of the middle classes since the early 1990s in six Latin American countries. The polarization-based measurements of the middle class are shown to exhibit a greater degree of homogeneity in terms of some key socioeconomic characteristics than other measures employed in the literature.

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File URL: http://cedlas.econo.unlp.edu.ar/archivos_upload/doc_cedlas113.pdf
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Paper provided by CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata in its series CEDLAS, Working Papers with number 0113.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:dls:wpaper:0113
Contact details of provider: Postal: Calle 48 No555 - La Plata (1900)
Phone: 21- 1466
Fax: 54-21-25-9536
Web page: http://cedlas.econo.unlp.edu.ar/

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  1. Andreas Peichl & Thilo Schaefer & Christoph Scheicher, 2010. "Measuring Richness And Poverty: A Micro Data Application To Europe And Germany," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 56(3), pages 597-619, 09.
  2. James Foster & Michael Wolfson, 2010. "Polarization and the decline of the middle class: Canada and the U.S," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 8(2), pages 247-273, June.
  3. Ravallion, Martin, 2010. "The Developing World's Bulging (but Vulnerable) Middle Class," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 445-454, April.
  4. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2008. "What Is Middle Class about the Middle Classes around the World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 22(2), pages 3-28, Spring.
  5. Esteban, Joan & Ray, Debraj, 1994. "On the Measurement of Polarization," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(4), pages 819-51, July.
  6. Perotti, Roberto & Alesina, Alberto, 1996. "Income Distribution, Political Instability, and Investment," Scholarly Articles 4553018, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  7. Florencia Torche & Luis F. Lopez-Calva, 2013. "Stability and Vulnerability of the Latin American Middle Class," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(4), pages 409-435, December.
  8. Alberto Alesina & Roberto Perotti, 1993. "Income Distribution, Political Instability, and Investment," NBER Working Papers 4486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Marcelo Medeiros, 2006. "The Rich and the Poor: The Construction of an Affluence Line from the Poverty Line," Social Indicators Research, Springer, vol. 78(1), pages 1-18, 08.
  10. Abdelkrim Araar, 2008. "Social Classes, Inequality and Redistributive Policies in Canada," Cahiers de recherche 0817, CIRPEE.
  11. Barro, Robert J., 1999. "Determinants of Democracy," Scholarly Articles 3451297, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Leonardo Gasparini & Guillermo Cruces & Leopoldo Tornarolli, 2009. "Recent trends in income inequality in Latin America," Working Papers 132, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  13. Easterly, William, 2001. " The Middle Class Consensus and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 317-35, December.
  14. Foster, James & Greer, Joel & Thorbecke, Erik, 1984. "A Class of Decomposable Poverty Measures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(3), pages 761-66, May.
  15. Conchita D'Ambrosio & Pietro Muliere & Piercesare Secchi, 2003. "Income Thresholds and Income Classes," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 325, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  16. Birdsall, N. & Graham, C. & Pettinato, S., 2000. "Stuck in the Tunnel: Is Globalization Muddling the Middle Class?," Papers 14, Brookings Institution - Working Papers.
  17. Robert Erikson & John H. Goldthorpe, 2002. "Intergenerational Inequality: A Sociological Perspective," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 31-44, Summer.
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