Economic Growth

The Global Middle Class Has Tripled in Size Since 2000

And the global upper-middle class doubled.


The BBC buried the lede when it reported that the number of millionaires increased by 5.2 million last year, bringing the total to 56.1 million globally during 2020. The bigger news in the BBC's source—the 2021 global wealth report by the financial services company Credit Suisse—is that membership in the global middle class has exploded over the last two decades.

The report defines the global middle class to include adults whose assets amount to between $10,000 to $100,000. This group, the report says, has more than tripled in size in this century, "from 507 million in 2000 to 1.7 billion in mid-2020. This reflects the growing prosperity of emerging economies, especially China, and the expansion of the middle class in the developing world." Meanwhile, the number of upper-middle class adults—with wealth ranging from $100,000 to $1 million—has more than doubled since 2000, from 208 million to 583 million.

These wealth trends track the trajectory of rising per capita global incomes. Back in 2018, Brookings Institution scholar Homi Kharas and his colleagues reported that half of the world's people lived in households that qualified as middle-class or rich. The Brookings researchers defined the global middle class as people earning, on a purchasing power parity basis, anywhere from $11 to $110 per day.

Brookings also reported that the percentage of people around world living in extreme poverty (defined as living on less than $2 per day per person) dropped from 42 percent of people (1.9 billion) in 1981 to under 8 percent (600 million) in 2018. Sadly, the share of people living in extreme poverty ticked up in 2020 to more than 9 percent (715 million) of the world's population, thanks to the economic effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The fall in extreme poverty is likely to stall for the next several years, as the pandemic continues to batter poor countries' economies.

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  1. “And the global upper-middle class doubled.”


    1. The results of this study are clearly racist, sexist, xenophobic, and homophobic.

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    2. The Democrats are working on equity. All in the middle class should be “adults whose assets amount to between $10,000 to $11,000”. The Democrats intend to eliminate the $11,001 to $100,000 dollar middle class!

  2. Good news indeed.

    1. This lower middle class of Central America and beyond are those now with enough resources to travel to the southern border and enter the US without leave to do so, but armed with the knowledge of how to game the system to stay.
      There will be many more.

      1. Okay, and?

        1. Lol. Remember when you used to post on your cytotoxic handle and said that illiterate Mexicans deserved welfare more than white people? Good times.

      2. Now we just need to change the system so that they way to stay is to work hard and be self-sufficient.

      3. Why would someone who has made it into the middle class in their native country want to dump all that to move to being lower class in the United States?

        1. It’s almost like being lower class in America is still materially better than being middle class in a shit hole.

  3. Adjusted for inflation or not? If not then big deal you fixed the number and inflated assets got higher.

    1. Yes good point. I’m “upper middle class” because I’m sitting on a house that has gone up from NZ$450K to NZ$1million (US$320K to 700K over the past 10 years solely due to government incompetency in allowing adequate housing to be built (all in the name of fighting climate change). Very little of my accumulated wealth is tangible – if I sell it I have to buy in the same market.

  4. “Things are getting better all the time” doesn’t sell newspapers, or get politicians elected though.

    1. It’s also not remotely true, so there’s that.

      1. Yeah, growing global prosperity, cleaner air and water, far fewer wars with far less death and destruction, a global connected internet, cheap and ubiquitous wireless phones, far greater tolerance of alternative lifestyles, affordable and abundant air travel options, curbside-to-curbside travel options cleaner and more convenient than taxis, abundant entertainment options, cheap and convenient delivery of anything directly to your door, etc. Not better at all.

        This is, by far, the best time to be alive in human history.

  5. And we are faced with constant calls to tear down the systems and cultures that allowed this rather amazing state of affairs to come about.

    1. So resist that with intelligent argument and honorable behavior.

      Why are our supposed champions of free market economy, the Republicans, into playing the victims, acting childish and petty, and cult of personality. We need and adult-in-the-room party.

      1. That’s what I’m doing. Though I am also pretty happy with some of the supposed “anti_CRT” laws which ban racist discrimination and racial stereotyping in education.

        1. General Mark A. Milley put the anti CRT Congress persons in their place yesterday. Gave them something to think about.

      2. You already have an adult in your party, Joe Biden, even his diapers are adult.

      3. Why are our supposed champions of free market economy, the Republicans, into playing the victims, acting childish and petty, and cult of personality.

        As the supposed guardian of Real Libertarianism why are you into playing the victim, acting childish and petty, and cult of personality in addition to constantly dissembling and deflecting blame from the majority party that actually holds institutional power onto the minority party that doesn’t control any branch of the monstrous federal government?

  6. Don’t believe the hype. What good is an expanding middle class when the earth is dying?!!!


  7. Very informative blog post. So resist that with intelligent argument and honorable behavior. Kaduna State Government that recruitment

  8. Meanwhile the Western middle class has stagnated for the last 30 years thanks to rampant corporatism, heavy regulation and incompetent economic policies.

    It’s great that Asia and Africa’s middle class has grown, but let’s not forget the Western economies were destroyed by their own governments in 2020, to the benefit of Amazon and Walmart.

    1. BINGO!

      We’re supposed to celebrate that a small percentage of China’s non-enslaved underclass got richer along with the western donor class while the American middle class collapsed, with about 1/5 slipping into dire poverty, another 1/5 rising to “upper middle class”, whatever in the fuck that’s supposed to mean, and the rest having all of their wealth and savings transferred by way of inflation, taxation, regulation and corporatism to the donor class and foreign sweatshop workers. Forgive me if I don’t give a flying fuck whether a blood diamond miner in Africa now makes $6 a day instead of $2 a day because my government in collusion with a global oligarchy conspired to obliterate the value of my savings and prevent me from advancing economically so that they could acquire more cheap shit and solidify their market power through regulatory capture.

  9. This is great news and something that need to continue. There has been a backlash to this progress from people who fear other catching up to them. Hopefully this fear can be put aside to recognize the benefits of have more people in the middle class. Strong middle classes are a key to peace and prosperity.

    1. There’s been a backlash from the people from whom this wealth was robbed so it could be redistributed to illiterate third world peasants and globalist multibillionaires. But then since you’re a pig ignorant cargo cultist who thinks that the accouterments of the middle class are actually the talismans that create a middle class, it’s not surprising the difference is lost on you.

      1. So what in your mind creates a middle class? History tells us that the middle class are the engine of social change and social leveling. That change comes when people have enough money to both live and to consider things out side their daily lives.

        1. According to Marxists, there can only be a righteous middle class when there is no upper class.

    2. “…a backlash to this progress from people who fear other catching up to them.”

      You have any data or other empirical evidence to support this claim? If not then I relegate it to things like “white privilege” and “systemic racism” that are made up by media drones to fuel their fires of discord.

      1. We have really since 2000’s been seeing a rise in protectionism and nationalism. It is difficult to see these are anything other than fear of losing one’s place in the order of things. Is it really the media when the former President’s message was one of fear the other? The media did not put those messages in his tweets, that was his choosing.

        1. You did not answer my question but with speculation to confirm your bias.

          Start with “people who fear other catching up to them.” Who are they, how many, where, how do you identify them?

          Ys, that is objective and rational and contrary to critical theory of all stripes.

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