Sunday, April 13, 2008

What is the definition of "Middle Class?"

There was an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune about what middle class, in the U.S., is:,2,3115883.story+%22The+middle+Class:+It%27s+a+state+of+mind%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us . Is it a state of assets? A status? Or a state of mind? They report that the Pew Research Center found that no matter where Americans find themselves on the economic spectrum, they consider themselves "middle class." For example, they reported on 3 different families, all of whom thought they were middle class. One is a family of 5 that gets by on less than $30,000 per year in Evanston. The next is a single woman who has doubled her salary in the last few years and just paid off her car. The third family is from a far suburb of Chicago (Geneva), and they have no money worries, making $350,000 annually. I think they are right that "middle class" is a state of mind and not a social status.

By the way, I used their choice of language by saying that the families thought they were "middle class." However, I wondered if it should be "middle classed." Or if there should be a hypen. But those are other discussions for other days!


Cat said...

Really good question. I'd say it's a state of mind, and an understanding of the hidden rules for the class in which you were raised. I refer to Ruby Payne's book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty. She outlines the hidden rules of the classes in the US and talks about how hard it is to move from one class to another.

I know I'm like a broken record about this book, but seriously, it's good stuff.

Kalleh said...

I really like "Nickle and Dimed," which might be a similar book, though I will have to read yours. It shows how very hard it is to live on a minimum wage.