Sunday, April 14, 2013

Middle class a matter of income, attitude

An example of why words matter in public policy debates.
Middle class a matter of income, attitude: "It's a strange thing," said Jim Brock, a Miami University economist. "There's a large difference between what our perception of a middle-class lifestyle is and what the statistics tell us the middle is." 
Strictly speaking, the median, or middle, household income in the United States today is $50,054. That's easy. The hard part is figuring out how far above or below the middle someone's income can go and still be considered middle class. 
“Even families making six figures are "much more comfortable calling themselves 'upper middle class.' They might have a lot of money, but they don't want to feel different.”
— Ken Eisold, psychologist 
Plenty of smart people have taken a stab at that question. In the past few years, the "middle class" income range has been described as between $32,900 and $64,000 a year (a Pew Charitable Trusts study), between $50,800 and $122,000 (a U.S. Department of Commerce study), and between $20,600 and $102,000 (the U.S. Census Bureau's middle 60% of incomes).
It's nice to consider yourself "middle class" — but are you, really?

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