Wash Post: The world is on the brink of a historic milestone: By 2020, more than half of the world’s population will be “middle class,” according to Brookings Institution scholar Homi Kharas.
Kharas defines the middle class as people who have enough money to cover basics needs, such as food, clothing and shelter, and still have enough left over for a few luxuries, such as fancy food, a television, a motorbike, home improvements or higher education.
It’s a critical juncture: After thousands of years of most people on the planet living as serfs, as slaves or in other destitute scenarios, half the population now has the financial means to be able to do more than just try to survive.
“There was almost no middle class before the Industrial Revolution began in the 1830s,” Kharas said. “It was just royalty and peasants. Now we are about to have a majority middle-class world.”
(Kharas’s definition of middle class takes into account differences in prices across countries.)
It’s interesting that middle class values are also expanding, especially in Asia, even as they may be declining in the United States:
According to the World Values Survey (2015), people in countries with burgeoning middle classes do not feel that governments are responsible for theirsuccess, but rather that it is thrift, hard work, determination, and perseverance that count.