02/12/2009 - Economic studies of the middle classes are plentiful, but opinion-poll research—especially involving international comparisons—is thin on the ground. So The Economist asked the Pew Research Center to trawl through its Global Attitudes database for this special report.
Pew looked at 13 middle-income countries in which the middle class is large or growing and classified their responses to questions about religion, democracy, life satisfaction, homosexuality and the environment by income. The threshold it used for “middle-classness” was a self-reported income of $4,286 a year in 2007 PPP dollars, consistent with the range of $4,000-17,000 a year used by the World Bank. Pew then compared these answers with the rest of the sample. Its middle-class group included the rich (defined as those with over $17,000 a year), but their numbers were not statistically significant. The survey therefore compares the attitudes of the global middle class with those of the poor in the same countries.
Andrew Kohut, the Pew Research Center’s president, describes it as “the most comprehensive analysis of the ways in which the middle class in emerging markets differs in its attitudes to life and society.”
Read the full article What Do You Think? on the Economist's Web site.