What is “Middle Class”?

October 1, 2008

Socialist depiction of society, 1911. Are we all middle class now?

Senators Obama and McCain are duking it out over who cuts taxes more for the middle class. But what do they mean by middle class? The U.S. Report looks into the question with my colleague Gerald Prante:

But Gerald Prante, writing for the nonpartisan Tax Foundation, says ‘middle class' is a term economists "[r]arely use." Instead, they use the term ‘middle income' and that's still a little wiggly because that can either mean the 20 percent of households with income in the middle or sometimes, the 60 percent who are in the middle. Sounds confusing, but Prante gives a good explanation. Who, exactly, is the middle class?[…]

What's more interesting is the application we Americans use for ‘middle class.' Prante said, "[a] recent Tax Foundation poll showed nearly 4 out of 5 Americans label themselves middle class." Only 2 percent called themselves "upper class."

Check out the full article here.

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