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The Emerging Middle Class in Developing Countries


  • Homi Kharas


The shift in global goods production towards Asia is well documented. But global consumer demand has so far been concentrated in the rich economies of the OECD. Will that also shift towards Asia as these countries get richer? This paper defines a global middle class as all those living in households with daily per capita incomes of between USD10 and USD100 in PPP terms. By combining household survey data with growth projections for 145 countries, it shows that Asia accounts for less than one-quarter of today’s middle class. By 2020, that share could double. More than half the world’s middle class could be in Asia and Asian consumers could account for over 40 per cent of global middle class consumption. This is because a large mass of Asian households have incomes today that position them just below the global middle class threshold and so increasingly large numbers of Asians are expected to become middle class in the next ten years. The paper explores how this can help sustain global growth in the medium term, driven by product differentiation, branding and marketing in the new growth markets of Asia. La répartition mondiale de la production industrielle en faveur de l’Asie est un phénomène largement démontré. Quant à la demande de consommation mondiale, elle provenait jusqu’ici des économies riches des pays de l’OCDE. Au fur et à mesure que les pays d’Asie s’enrichissent, cette demande de consommation va-t-elle à son tour se déplacer en leur faveur ? Dans ce document de travail, la classe moyenne est définie comme foyers à revenus moyens par tête entre USD10 et USD100, en termes de pouvoir d’achat. En associant des données récoltées lors d’enquêtes auprès de ménages à des projections de croissance dans 145 pays, on s’aperçoit que l’Asie représente moins d’un quart de la classe moyenne d’aujourd’hui. Cette proportion pourrait doubler d’ici 2020. Plus de la moitié de la classe moyenne mondiale se situerait alors en Asie, et les consommateurs asiatiques pourraient représenter plus de 40 pour cent de la consommation mondiale des classes moyennes. Cela est dû au fait qu’un grand nombre de foyers asiatiques perçoive aujourd’hui des revenus les positionnant juste en dessous du seuil de la classe moyenne mondiale. Pour cette raison, il est prévu que, dans les dix prochaines années, de plus en plus d’Asiatiques fassent partie de la classe moyenne. Ce document de travail analyse la manière dont ce phénomène peut contribuer à maintenir, au moyen terme, la croissance globale, qui est provoquée par la différentiation des produits, le marquage et le marketing dans les nouveaux marchés émergents d’Asie.

Suggested Citation

  • Homi Kharas, 2010. "The Emerging Middle Class in Developing Countries," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 285, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:devaaa:285-en

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    centre de gravité; Chile; classe moyenne; consommation; croissance globale; firm level data; pays asiatiques;

    JEL classification:

    • F01 - International Economics - - General - - - Global Outlook
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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