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On the identification of the “middle class”

Author

Listed:
  • Anthony B. Atkinson

    () (Nuffield College)

  • Andrea Brandolini

    () (Bank of Italy)

Abstract

The paper examines the identification of the “middle class” using data from LIS and LWS. It first considers definitions based purely on income, examining the rationale for different approaches and illustrating the implications for changes over time. It argues that the concept of “class” requires the examination of other dimensions beyond income. The paper considers the role of property and, drawing on the sociological literature, of occupations.

Suggested Citation

  • Anthony B. Atkinson & Andrea Brandolini, 2011. "On the identification of the “middle class”," Working Papers 217, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
  • Handle: RePEc:inq:inqwps:ecineq2011-217
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    File URL: http://www.ecineq.org/milano/WP/ECINEQ2011-217.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. Markus M. Grabka & Joachim R. Frick, 2008. "The Shrinking German Middle Class: Signs of Long-Term Polarization in Disposable Income?," Weekly Report, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research, vol. 4(4), pages 21-27.
    6. Andrea Brandolini & Silvia Magri & Timothy M. Smeeding, 2010. "Asset-based measurement of poverty," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(2), pages 267-284.
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    8. Marcelo Medeiros, 2006. "The Rich and the Poor: The Construction of an Affluence Line from the Poverty Line," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 78(1), pages 1-18, August.
    9. repec:mes:jeciss:v:41:y:2007:i:1:p:181-200 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Bluestone, Barry & Harrison, Bennett, 1988. "The Growth of Low-Wage Employment: 1963-86," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(2), pages 124-128, May.
    11. Andreas Peichl, 2007. "Measuring richness," German Stata Users' Group Meetings 2007 06, Stata Users Group.
    12. Michal Brzezinski, 2010. "Income Affluence in Poland," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 99(2), pages 285-299, November.
    13. Joseph Eisenhauer, 2008. "An Economic Definition of the Middle Class," Forum for Social Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(2), pages 103-113, January.
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Durr-e-Nayab, 2011. "Estimating the Middle Class in Pakistan," The Pakistan Development Review, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics, vol. 50(1), pages 1-28.
    2. Gordon Anderson & Alessio Farcomeni & Grazia Pittau & Roberto Zelli, 2014. "A new approach to measuring and studying the characteristics of class membership: The progress of poverty, inequality and polarization of income classes in urban China," Working Papers tecipa-521, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    3. Lukas Schlogl & Andy Sumner, 2014. "How Middle Class are the ‘Emerging Middle’ or ‘Scooter Class’ in Indonesia? A Household Asset Approach to Social Stratification," Working Papers in Economics and Development Studies (WoPEDS) 201407, Department of Economics, Padjadjaran University, revised May 2014.
    4. Luis López-Calva & Eduardo Ortiz-Juarez, 2014. "A vulnerability approach to the definition of the middle class," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 12(1), pages 23-47, March.
    5. Andy Sumner, 2012. "The Buoyant Billions: How “Middle Class†Are the New Middle Classes in Developing Countries? (And Why Does It Matter?)," Working Papers id:5169, eSocialSciences.
    6. Andreas Peichl & Nico Pestel, 2013. "Multidimensional affluence: theory and applications to Germany and the US," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(32), pages 4591-4601, November.
    7. Gründler, Klaus & Köllner, Sebastian, 2017. "Determinants of governmental redistribution: Income distribution, development levels, and the role of perceptions," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(4), pages 930-962.
    8. Nuno Crespo & Sandrina B. Moreira & Nadia Simoes, 2015. "An Integrated Approach for the Measurement of Inequality, Poverty, and Richness," Panoeconomicus, Savez ekonomista Vojvodine, Novi Sad, Serbia, vol. 62(5), pages 531-555, December.
    9. Wang, Jinxian & Caminada, Koen & Goudswaard, Kees & Wang, Chen, 2015. "Decomposing income polarization and tax-benefit changes across 31 European countries and Europe wide, 2004-2012," MPRA Paper 66155, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. García-Fernández, Rosa María & Gottlieb, Daniel & Palacios-González, Frederico, 2013. "Polarization, growth and social policy in the case of Israel, 1997-2008," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 7, pages 1-40.
    11. Çakır, Mustafa Yavuz & Kabundi, Alain, 2013. "Trade shocks from BRIC to South Africa: A global VAR analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 190-202.
    12. Bengtsson, Niklas & Holmlund, Bertil & Waldenström, Daniel, 2012. "Lifetime versus Annual Tax Progressivity: Sweden, 1968–2009," IZA Discussion Papers 6641, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    13. Philipp Doerrenberg & Andreas Peichl, 2013. "Progressive taxation and tax morale," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 155(3), pages 293-316, June.
    14. Arjun Jayadev & Rahul Lahoti & Sanjay Reddy, 2015. "The Middle Muddle: Conceptualizing and Measuring the Global Middle Class," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 193, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    15. Markus M. Grabka & Ursina Kuhn, 2012. "The Evolution of Income Inequality in Germany and Switzerland since the Turn of the Millennium," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 464, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    16. Gordon Anderson & Thomas Fruehauf & Maria Grazia Pittau & Roberto Zelli, 2015. "Evaluating Progress Toward an Equal Opportunity Goal: Assessing the German Educational Reforms of the First Decade of the 21st Century," Working Papers tecipa-552, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    17. Richard M. Bird & Eric M. Zolt, 2014. "Taxation and inequality in the Americas: Changing the fiscal contract?," Chapters,in: Taxation and Development: The Weakest Link?, chapter 7, pages 193-237 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    18. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1350-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Beach, Charles M., 2014. "What Has Happened to Middle-Class Earnings? Distributional Shifts in Earnings in Canada, 1970-2005," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2014-13, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 26 Mar 2014.
    20. Fishman, Ezra & Kimhi, Ayal, 2013. "Is the Israeli Labor Market Segmented? Revisiting the Mixture Regression Model," Discussion Papers 164512, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Agricultural Economics and Management.
    21. 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.
    22. Ronelle Burger & Cindy Lee Steenekamp & Servaas van der Berg & Asmus Zoch, 2014. "The middle class in contemporary South Africa: Comparing rival approaches," Working Papers 11/2014, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    23. Christopher T. Whelan & Brian Nolan & Bertrand Maitre, 2017. "Polarization or “Squeezed Middle” in the Great Recession?: A Comparative European Analysis of the Distribution of Economic Stress," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 133(1), pages 163-184, August.
    24. Adrian Robles & Marcos Robles, 2016. "Changes in Welfare with a Heterogeneous Workforce: The Case of Peru," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 7507, Inter-American Development Bank.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    class structure; income distribution;

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • D33 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Factor Income Distribution

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