by Charles Hugh Smith
Of Two Minds
Can an economy in which 10% of the households qualify as middle class claim to offer widespread opportunities for secure prosperity? No, it cannot.
Defining the middle class is a perpetually popular parlor game because it’s well-known that the foundation of widespread prosperity is a broad-based middle class and a sturdy ladder of social mobility that enables those below the middle class to work their way up to middle class security.
Here’s an example of a typical trope on the subject: What Does It Take To Be Middle Class?
The topic is also a perennial favorite because the middle class is losing ground. By basic measures of income, it’s slipped from 60% of the populace to 50%.
A strong case can be made that assessed by characteristics of middle class security and prosperity rather than income, the middle class has effectively shrunk to 10% of households as only the top 30% of households earn enough to afford what was within reach of the top 60% in decades past.