Talk:Middle class

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The last paragraph of current usage is gramaticly uncertain.

From the statistics quoted I would draw the inference that "working class" has negative conotations in the US, and that "middle class" has negative conotations in the UK.

That is also the case anecdotaly.

However that is not how it is worded in the article. we also need some references. Jmackaerospace (talk) 13:20, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

--Thulasimani p (talk) 10:10, 17 September 2011 (UTC)== Collars ==

From my experience the terms "white collar" and "blue collar" are almost exclusively American, yet in this article they seem to be contrasted with the expansion of American middle class. I may be incorrect, but I feel the wording should be changed. (talk) 13:42, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

From my experience your experience is geographically limited. "White" and "blue" collar appear often in Anglophone literature of class and stratum; in Australian English they're typical shorthand for occupational and some cultural features (strata / Weberian class). Fifelfoo (talk) 00:50, 27 January 2009 (UTC)
The term collar aint used in UK.. so yeah the article is too general and needs revamped and clarified.
--Andymcgrath (talk) 09:09, 05 December 2009 (UTC)
              White-collar refers to jobs that can be done wearing a light colored dress and collar remaining free from stains of sweat.  Blue-collar refers to jobs where wearing a dark collored dress, often a prescribed uniform, is desirable, because the work may require handling  materials like    soil, oil, grease, coal. There is a risk of staining. Collars  of workers  doing certain works and working       in places like farms  gets stained by sweat.  Irrespective of there origin and usage, these iconic words  describe  universal  situations that are common knowledge.  No other word can be substituted.--Thulasimani p (talk) 10:10, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

current govt usage[edit]

It would be helpful to add a paragraph about what the US govt considers "middle class", for instance when they want to cut taxes for the so-called middle class. It seems they would include 95% of the populace.--dunnhaupt (talk) 22:10, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

   Government  prescribes a income limit below which a tax concession is available. Both middle and lower class that is 95% of the populace is eligible.  Since lower class pay negligible  tax,  the benefit they receive is also negligible.  Hence it is essentially a benefit  for the middle class--Thulasimani p (talk) 10:02, 17 September 2011 (UTC)
The US government has no definition of middle class. Federal, state, and local agencies have many definitions of middle income, as each is free to create its own definitions. For example, about 12 different federal agencies are responsible for gathering the data used to compile GDP figures. Sometimes a single agency will have three of four definitions, depending on the situation. That being said, journalists and writers of undergraduate economics textbooks seem to have settled on a definition which the government occasionally uses, perhaps more frequently than others, namely, the middle three fifths of the population in terms of annual household income. The top quintile is then considered high-income while the bottom quintile is low-income.
Politicians sometimes use the term "middle class," especially in campaign speeches, but this does not give the term any official status. In the early 1990s, Bill Clinton pioneered the use of the term "hard working people like you and me" as a substitute for "the middle class." Zyxwv99 (talk) 14:36, 28 April 2012 (UTC)

American use of the terms middle and working class[edit]

It should be pointed out that in the USA, the term middle class is often used to describe what would usually be called working class in other countries. -- (talk) 11:50, 10 August 2009 (UTC)

I strongly concur. The way these terms are contrasted in the article seems to me inappropriate based on common usage.
--Mcorazao (talk) 15:11, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
Indeed thats true. What constitutes as working class in the UK, would be the equivalent of middle class in the US. While middle class in UK, is the equivalent of upper class in US. The article doesnt explain this, the usage of the term is different for each nation.
Many from the US who would describe themselve middle class, wouldn't meet the criteria (wealth or social standing) to be middle class in UK, hence most would be working class. Using my own example as an Accountant (and earnings), i consider myself working class in UK, but in US i would probably be deemed "upper middle class" (a term not used in UK). Essentially there is an inflation of the term Middle class in the US that the article does not touch upon.
--Andymcgrath (talk) 08:56, 05 December 2009 (UTC)

Yes, this article seems confusng, and is incorrect from a UK perspective, the usual toxic Wikipedia US-centrism I suppose.. "The middle class is a class of people in the middle of a social hierarchy" is not true here, 'middle-class' means those in the higher (but not highest) income bracket and carries a lot of connotations as to lifestyle etc. (talk) 14:39, 27 February 2016 (UTC)

The term "upper middle class" is occasionally used in the UK, but by and large the class obsessed English seem to have boiled their class system down merely to "middle class" and "working class" . Poshseagull (talk) 19:36, 21 April 2017 (UTC)

Proposed removal: Geographic terms[edit]

Unless there are references to support it I believe the "Geographic Terms" section needs to go. It is not true that

  • The terms "Middle America" or "Middle England" were coined to associate these geographic areas with the Middle Class.
  • People generally make this association. Although some people may make this association, that interpretation is not widespread enough to make such sweeping statements (and certainly not enough to justify a whole section).
  • These regions of their respective nations are more Middle Class than other sections.

The references that are provided in this section appear to support specific statements but not the overall thesis of the section. From what I have read it is true that "Middle Australia" is commonly used to refer to Middle Class Australia but then "Middle Australia" is not actually a geographic term. Similarly occasionally some authors may use "Middle America" to refer to the Middle Class United States but then they are not using it as a geographic term. Arguing that this justifies the section is an equivocation (a type of logical fallacy).

--Mcorazao (talk) 15:11, 26 August 2009 (UTC)

Language in 'Marxism and the middle class.'[edit]

"Marxism defines social classes..."

It lacks clarity and intellectual integrity to refer to particular or frequent lines of thought coming out of a long-lasting, diverse school of though as all-inclusive of all writers of the tradition. Not all Marxists think the same, by any stretch of imagination or rhetoric. This section must be clear who defines one thing or another in this or that manner.

If no one is able or willing to be specific, in the text, as to who wrote such things, then in the very least the language must be altered - a person, a single work with multiple authors, even an organization, can define a thing, but a broad, incohesive school of thought cannot. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Shaunmwilson1 (talkcontribs) 02:36, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

Professional class[edit]

The professional class are a middle class group of professionals who are distinguished from other social groups by training and education (typically business qualifications and university degrees). [1] Examples of such professions include academics, architects, engineers, lawyers, accountants, physicians, dentists, pharmacists, registered nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, psychologists, sociologists, some non-corporate business-owners, economists, political scientists and other so-called "hard" scientists [2][1]. Persons of this group tend to have incomes above the average for their country.[3]
  1. Nadbank page doesn't exist
  2. US BL doesn't mention class
  3. No page ref (also, its not an academic work on class)

As all citations fail cite-check, moved to Talk: Fifelfoo (talk) 14:44, 4 October 2009 (UTC)


  1. ^ a b "US Bureau of Labor list of professional occupations". Retrieved 2006-06-23.
  2. ^ "NADbank classification of occupations". Retrieved 2006-06-23.
  3. ^ Adams, J.Q. (2001). Dealing with Diversity. Chicago, IL: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company. ISBN 0-7872-8145-X. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)

just adding {{Reflist-talk}} template ThinkingTwice contribs | talk 10:11, 29 December 2017 (UTC)

Clean up[edit]

This article is not as well structured and sourced as it deserves to be, and it needs development. It's a major topic, which averages over 700 views a day, so should be (and could be) better than it currently is. Indeed, the organisation of articles about social class in general need sorting out as there is a fair bit of duplication, dicdef and personal opinion scattered around these articles - a number could be merged. I'm prepared to work on this for a bit to help start it on the right track - I have done some political and social studies so have a loose grasp of some of the concepts, and know a few of the major authors to use for authoritative cites - but I am not an expert, so I may get things wrong. Any help in shaping the article would be much appreciated. SilkTork *YES! 17:34, 4 October 2009 (UTC)

The difference what constitutes Middle class in UK to US[edit]

Thats the most notable thing from my perspective that needs to be pointed out. Most of those who are deemed middle class in US would only meet the criteria (earnings/social standing) of being working class if they lived in the UK. Also the middle class in UK are seen as being posh, hence many people prefer to term themselves as working class.

--Andymcgrath (talk) 08:56, 05 December 2009 (UTC)

I agree, and highlighted the discrepancy in usage, high in the article with my two changes. DouglasHeld (talk) 16:43, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

"middle class" is a false term in the USA[edit]

In the United Stated of America the term "middle class" is used by politicians to avoid saying "working class" or "working poor". There are fewer and fewer in the "middle" in the USA. The gap between the "haves" and "have nots" is getting greater. There term "middle class" is insignificant. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:45, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

45% exactly[edit]

The american middle class is said to be 45% of the population, then, in the very next sentence, a link is provided that gives several different percentages for the size of the middle class:

As the American middle class is estimated at approximately 45% of the population,[10][11][12] The Economist's article would put the size of the American middle class below the world average. This difference is due to the extreme difference in definitions between The Economist's and many other models.

The paragraph is needlessly argumentative, and clearly comparing apples and oranges, and internally contradictory. If the point really needs to be made, it should be made differently, like perhaps this:

The American middle class is a term in various academic models, and is generally a smaller subset of the population that the middle class as defined in The Economist's article.

History and evolution of the term[edit]

The first paragraph of this section has problems:

The term "middle class" is first attested in James Bradshaw's 1745 pamphlet Scheme to prevent running Irish Wools to France.[1][2] The term has had several, sometimes contradictory, meanings.

So far so good.

It was once defined by exception as an intermediate social class between the nobility and the peasantry of Europe.[by whom?]

I've actually seen this in several sources, including Merriam-Webster's unabridged. However, it's not correct. The peasantry included smallholders and millers, some of whom were quite wealthy. Conversely, many countries (notably Hungary and Poland) had large numbers of poor nobles. In England, armigerous gentry were technically untitled nobility, and not necessarily well-off.

While the nobility owned the countryside, and the peasantry worked the countryside, a new bourgeoisie (literally "town-dwellers") arose around mercantile functions in the city.

The nobility typically about owned 30 - 60 % of the countryside, depending on which country and period we're talking about. The rest was owned by the church and by freeholders. Also, the bourgeoisie were not new, just the word. The bourgeoisie had been around since the days of Charlemagne.

Another definition equated the middle class to the original meaning of capitalist: someone with so much capital that they could rival nobles. By this definition, only millionaires and billionaires are middle class in modern times.

Marx, a German, seems to have defined the French word bourgeoisie this way, but that was not how middle class was understood in any English-speaking part of the world.

In fact, to be a capital-owning millionaire was the essential criterion of the middle class in the industrial revolution.

This is nonsense. Try doing a search on Google books for the term "middle class" filtering for the years 1760 to 1850, and you will see that this is not how the term was used. Zyxwv99 (talk) 03:04, 26 May 2012 (UTC)

In France, the middle classes helped drive the French Revolution.[3]

This part is correct. Zyxwv99 (talk) 03:06, 26 May 2012 (UTC)

Politically biased towards right wing politics[edit]

The whole descrpition (mostly inside the US middle class) is totally biased to right politics.

While it may be so that America is an right nation, it might be interesting to let it clear that the definition provided is not only about US middle class, but also how middle class is described by far right. Things like "authoritative parents" should not exist in there.

Since I personally don't like right politics, it ends up that I would not like to be that someone described in such middle class. Alas, you can be a perfectly healthy middle class member without the right symbolism.

Just saying ... anyone with better knowledge of left/right wing politics, and how to describe it in a better unbiased way, should be able to come up with a better description. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:54, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

"Social reproduction of the middle class"[edit]

I think this whole section should be deleted. It employs a very specific theoretical framework and pre-supposes that its writer's narrow, principally American definition of the middle class applies to the more amorphous global definition. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:24, 4 December 2015 (UTC)

It appears I was being blind when I wrote that comment just underneath this bit. It seems I repeated what you had already mentioned. I did actually alter the section to make sure it was somewhat more clear that it was merely opinion. I actually would not care if it was deleted anyway, to be honest. At least I made it a little more wiki-like.--Hypernator (talk) 22:11, 20 December 2015 (UTC)

The "Social reproduction of the middle class" part is written like a factual article but is opinion.[edit]

That whole section is basically written as if it is "matter of fact" but it is just opinion based on a book. Also the references 14 and 16 are the same thing. I suggest it just be removed completely if the writer cannot be bothered to state that: "In the opinion of Doob, Christopher B..."

Someone saying something in a book does not make it some kind of fact. It is technically their interpretation based on supposed evidence. This applies just as much to a philosophical opinion as it does science. Someone's opinion is not a piece of evidence, it is simply their point of view on the subject - an interpretation.

I would be inclined to suggest that it looks like complete nonsense anyway. To suggest that an entire group of people, labelled with an extremely vague title, all do a particular thing is pretty strange (bordering on insanity). Middle class is less vague in the UK because it is defined by the income/ financial status/ net worth of the person. In other words lower, middle and upper class tax bands. I am not sure how it is done in USA but I would imagine it is not a clearly defined category. I can see immediately that the section in question is very odd though, regardless.Hypernator (talk) 22:32, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

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Table - Middle-class share of all adults by country[edit]

Responding to this [1].

Wealth does not change by buying a house, it’s calculated by taking all assets (Financial and non-financial) less all debts including any mortgages. This means that buying a house just transfers equity between asset types, you can always sell the house if you want and capitalise on any net gain just like any other asset. An income only method which you seem to support can screws the facts, it can incorrectly categorise millionaires who focus on non-financial assets as poor because their main yearly gain is non-financial until the asset is sold. Then when they do sell the asset they flip-flop though the class groups which is wrong. Pensioners are another group, they often already 100% own their houses and cars and they don’t have young kids to support etc. They chose to retire and subsequently under an income only method they artificially drop out of the middle class bracket because their income drops, but in reality their disposable income after mortgage payments etc. is simpler to what they had before. They are still living a middle class lifestyle its just they don’t need to have as much money coming in as someone much younger who pays a mortgage, is buying a car and has children.

As the article describes there are different whys people have used to show who are middle class. So instead of blanking out the table of data you don’t like, can I suggest you go and find WP:RS data which shows the information based on income only and perhaps add that to the current article along with the current split by wealth. This way we will give a reader a more rounded view of the subject as they would be able to see both methods and draw their own conclusions leaving the page with a WP:Neutral point of view. ThinkingTwice contribs | talk 10:06, 29 December 2017 (UTC)

I never said that buying a house lowers wealth. What I said was or tried to say is the following: as shown by the OECD link, at the Middle Quintile, nearly all wealth is comprised of Non Fin Assets, which obviously means Home equity for the most part. This is not cash or anything which can directly be used to buy goods and services unless you sell the house and keep cash. So now the question is what determines home equity: Home equity is higher in places where there are a) higher home prices b) higher home ownership rates and c) low debt mortgages. Factor A is probably most important. So in essence we are ranking middle class on the basis of who has the more expensive housing market? I think that’s absurd. No WONDER you see Germany and Sweden well below poorer Spain and Italy and others. Australia has the most expensive housing market and consequently the highest median wealth. In reality, their lifestyle would be no different if Home prices were half what they are now. In fact ͏it would be better! In the USA, you can buy a house with only 3% upfront equity, which when combined with low Home prices in 90% of country leads to low Home equity and thus NF wealth. Another example, is that a family who just bought a house and has low equity may very well not even be middle class despite being upper income! Also, middle class renters will

Never be middle class according to this definition unless they accumulate some other asset. In Germany, where majority rent, This is exactly what you see.

Meanwhile, the same OECD link says that a huge portion of Financial wealth is concentrated in the top 10%. This is also known as liquid wealth and can easily be converted to consumption.
While the examples you provide on wealth are correct, the benefit of wealth per year is tiny in comparison to income. Income is used at a 90-100% rate in most counties (hence a 0-10%) savings rate. Wealth is only “used” to finance consumption during Retirement or Extraordinary circumstances. Of course it can also produce income itself. And typically when wealth is used during retirement, it is liquidated at a recommended 3-4% rate per year. Therefore wealth can be seen as a buffer or nest egg. As mentioned above though, most of this at the middle is simply what you have in your own home.
I also wanted to illustrate just how small of an impact NF wealth (in terms of home equity) has in financing consumption. First of all, only about 3% of homes are sold in a given year. Assume half use proceeds to upsize and other half to downsize. Let’s even assume that the homes are all debt free with no mortgage. Of those who downsized, say they kept HALF as cash and the other half to buy a smaller property. So you do the math, and even with these generous assumptions, you still have only .075% of home equity being transferred as cash in a given year. And of that amount, it’s unlikely all will be used in a year, since the goal was probably to live off it for years to come.
This is all why a more complete measure of income has been or should be used which incorporates wealth withdrawals. I am Pretty sure most surveys already include pensions so that is not a issue. If they do not include withdrawals from wealth they should, but I suspect it won’t add that much to overall income given the low withdrawal rate during retirements.
You make a valid point that retirees have lower income while having more wealth. If they are just sitting on the wealth and simply living off their pension, then they aren’t living a middle class lifestyle. If they are supplementing their pension with wealth, then they very well could have a rich lifestyle depending on how much cash they have saved or transferred from their main property. its A case by case scenario but I think the overall illustration above is fruitful. Also note that retirees are not a huge part of the pop anyway. But again, you must admit that wealth misses and includes people who shouldn’t be there; most renters and new Home buyers wont have much equity and not labeled in middle class even if they are in standard of living. Likewise an elderly person sitting on a house which appreciated may be considered well off from a wealth perspective even though her income only supports a lower lifestyle. He/she would have to sell house or take on debt to get any benefit. The only benefit besides that is living without a mortgage. This speaks to what you said before about someone labeled as “poor” when they sit in an expensive property. In those years that they are sitting on it, they are indeed income poor because they can’t buy goods and services (which makes me wonder how they could afford the housing costs), and can’t otherwise benefit from the illiquid property. Also you are assuming said person sells the house to begin with. Many elderly people simply stay in it and pass it on. A small % of the housing stock is sold in a given year from data I have seen in various nations. Nevertheless the example you provided of an elderly person having less expenses like children and no mortgage is true of most elderly people no matter if their house is worth 100,000 or a million. Wealth differences don’t change this almost fact of life. Of course they may have higher expenses elsewhere like
health care.
I will gladly add an income perspective. Thoughts?? — Preceding unsigned copy mment added by Lneal001 (talkcontribs) 14:08, 29 December 2017 (UTC)

A simple illustration showing importance of income for financing consumption. We assume 3% rate for fin wealth which is spent in a given year, and (for NF wealth) we assume 3% of homes sold of which, half are downsized, half of that cash retained, and 20% of that spent in a given year.

Country A (all per adult)

Income: 50,000 NF wealth: 10,000 Fin wealthy: 50,000

50,000 + nil + 1500= 51,500-savings= consumption

Country B:

Income: 30,000 NF wealth: 250,000 Fin wealth: 100,000

30,000+375+3000= 33,375-savings= consumption.

So even a massive difference in wealth in favor of B will only marginally close the distance in terms of consumption. If the difference was purely due to NF assets, as in the middle quintile (where NF assets dominate=home equity), then the boost to consumption for B would be almost trivial.

This is all in terms of DIRECT impact. Indirectly, greater wealth causes more income, though that would already be taken into account. If the higher wealth in B is due to a higher home ownership rate, then we would have the benefit of a larger portion of the population living for free, which obviously is a positive vs A. If however the higher NF wealth is simply due to higher home prices (for example Australia vs USA) then there really is no net benefit unless you sell the house and take a cash proceed (which would be included in the calculations above). Plus you must counteract this with the fact that higher home prices also means less money for other goods and services.

Thus when you see median wealth of say Italy double that of Germany or Sweden for example, it does NOT mean that the former has a higher standard of living, because the the latter two make up for it by having far higher income.

Sent from my iPhone — Preceding unsigned comment added by Lneal001 (talkcontribs) 16:31, 30 December 2017 (UTC)

Possible Misquote in Power and Class[edit]

The power and class section quotes a line from The Working Class Majority: America's Best Kept Secret, that begins, "In 2020, the labor force numbered 152.7 million people..." Since the book was published in 2012 and it's not even 2020 yet, I assume that was a typo meant to say 2002. I tried to go to the source to verify but I don't have access to the full text. If someone with full access wants to verify, that would be nice.

Also the entire Power and Class section is based on a single source. It seems like a good one but some effort should be made to find more info. Plasteredpegasus (talk) 18:38, 5 October 2019 (UTC)

Article written by a Marxist[edit]

Why is this being allowed to fly? It has clearly been written by someone viewing the world through a Marxist lens. The entire article is littered with the political phrases of Marxism, such as breaking down society into "the bourgeoisie" and "the proletariat" with mentions of a "ruling class".

The article ought to lead with a breakdown of definitions by region (because obviously they differ in the US, UK, and others) and MAYBE have a small section further down discussing Marx's thoughts on the subject. (talk) 23:12, 29 December 2019 (UTC)

Terminology section: Lack of Factual Accuracy[edit]

Terminology section contains following statement:

"In medieval European feudal society (8th–12th centuries), a "middle class" composed primarily of peasants who formed a new "bourgeoisie" based on the success of their mercantile ventures, eventually overthrew the ruling monarchists of their society and ultimately led to the rise of capitalist societies."

This statement ignores the 3 Estates of Feudalism (which has well been well-attested by historians). For some reason, the editor has considered limiting Feudal society to the 8th-12th centuries; which is contrary to most accepted definitions of between 9th-15th centuries (see Feudalism) Since the statement is unsourced, there is no way of understanding the meaning of the sentence. This entire section should be revised in a meaningful way.

--AnalyticalHistoricalHobbyist (talk) 15:58, 8 January 2021 (UTC)

Update: the statement is sourced in the next section: History and evolution of the term. It cites Marx' Communist Manifesto. Which means this section has a NPOV issue as well.

--AnalyticalHistoricalHobbyist (talk) 16:16, 8 January 2021 (UTC)

History and evolution of the term section: NPOV issue[edit]

The first paragraph should be greatly expanded upon. As currently written, this section is focused solely on a Marxist interpretation.

--AnalyticalHistoricalHobbyist (talk) 16:18, 8 January 2021 (UTC)