Posted by: Middleclass Search | September 13, 2012

Middle-class Definition

What is the American middle-class?  Economists and social scientists have various definitions of the middle-class; but we will try to simply place a dollar value on our definition.  Between the mid-1950s and the mid-1970s was American Middle Class’s “Golden Age” (with 1972 as the high point).  At that time the middle-class was defined as a family of four, with one wage earner, owning a modest home, able to send two children to college, have adequate healthcare, and able to retire comfortably at age 65 on 80% of their salary.

This definition implies a 1972 middle-class expectation. Today the average middle-class family lives in a larger house than their 1972 counterparts, have two new cars with additional cars for their driving teenagers, their vacations and weddings are more elaborate and even the food they eat is more exotic.

Right or wrong, 1972 with that year’s expectations will be the baseline for the definition of middle-class.


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