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Latin American Middle Classes: The Distance between Perception and Reality

  • Eduardo Lora

    ()

  • Deisy Johanna Fajardo

The main contribution of this paper with respect to previous work is the use of data on subjective perceptions to identify the Latin American middle classes. This paper provides a set of comparisons between objective and subjective definitions of middle-class using data from the 2007 World Gallup Poll. Seven objective income-based definitions of social class are contrasted with a self-perceived social status measure. Mismatches between the objective and the subjective classification of social class are the largest when the objective definition is based on median incomes. Mismatches result from the fact that self-perceived social status is associated not just with income, but also with personal capabilities, interpersonal relations, financial and material assets, and perceptions of economic insecurity. Objective definitions of the middle class based on absolute incomes provide the lowest mismatches and the most accurate differentiation of the middle class from other classes.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department in its series Research Department Publications with number 4727.

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Date of creation: Dec 2011
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Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:4727
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  1. Bruno S. Frey & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Valuing Public Goods: The Life Satisfaction Approach," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-11, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  2. Easterly, William, 2001. " The Middle Class Consensus and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 6(4), pages 317-35, December.
  3. Joe C. Davis & John H. Huston, 1992. "The Shrinking Middle-Income Class: A Multivariate Analysis," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 277-285, Summer.
  4. Walter Sosa Escudero & Sergio Petralia, 2010. "“I Can Hear the Grass Grow”: The Anatomy of Distributive Changes in Argentina," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0106, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  5. Nancy Birdsall, 2010. "The (Indispensable) Middle Class in Developing Countries; or, The Rich and the Rest, Not the Poor and the Rest," Working Papers 207, Center for Global Development.
  6. Milanovic, Branko & Shlomo Yitzhaki, 2001. "Decomposing world income distribution : does the world have a middle class ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2562, The World Bank.
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