Half the world is now 'middle class' or 'rich'

Middle class neighborhood.
(Image credit: iStock/peterspiro)

For the first time since the dawn of human civilization, most people in the world aren't living in poverty.

That's what a September study from the Brookings Institution, reported by Axios on Tuesday, found after analyzing the share of people who are either poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty. The tipping point arrived last month, when 3.8 billion people could be considered "middle class" or "rich," the analysis concluded.

"Barring some unfortunate global economic setback, this marks the start of a new era of a middle-class majority," the study authors wrote. Just over 50 percent of the world's households spend $11-110 per day per person, making them middle class, by the researchers' definition. Other groups include those in extreme poverty, spending less than $1.90 per person per day, and the rich, who spend more than $110 per person per day.

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The middle class is the largest segment of the population, though a significant portion is also considered "vulnerable" — those who are somewhere in between poverty and middle class, with little disposable income and an increased risk of falling into poverty. While just over 3 billion people can be classified this way, researchers note that the middle class is growing much faster. By 2030, the middle class will reach 5.3 billion people, the study projects, while there will be 900 million fewer vulnerable people.

"After this, for the first time ever, the poor and vulnerable will no longer be a majority in the world," researchers reported. Read more at Brookings.

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