Friday, February 23, 2018

Aflame and Disordered: Supplement

As a point of comparison to Stephen Rose's picture of an "upper middle class" ballooning from 12% of the US population in 1979 to 30% in 2014, discussed this morning courtesy of Steven Pinker and David Brooks, I found a much more directly useful model from Pew Social Trends, 2015.

It shows an upper middle class (defined in terms of a three-person household earning from $126,000 to $188,000 a year) remaining steady in size at about 12% since at least 1981; an upper class growing substantially but still remaining tiny; a lower (under $31,000) and lower middle (under $42,000) class following a similar pattern on the other side, though involving half again as many people; and a middle class gradually shrinking into minority status.

Sounds like three quarters of the growth in Rose's "upper middle" came from people moving up around the $100K barrier but not far enough to make it into Rose's category, and the rest from a small minority getting up from $188K. Doesn't sound anything like the picture Brooks and Pinker like, of course.

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