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middle class

The High-Risk, Low-Risk Scenarios for Russia’s Economic Future

Birgit Hansl's picture

I discussed our most recent Russia growth outlook at a roundtable at the Higher School of Economics Conference on Apr. 2 with a number of Russian and international experts. This conference is one of the most important and prestigious economic conferences in Russia, and traditionally, the World Bank co-sponsors it as part of its outreach to other stakeholders.

The room was packed...

Brazil’s protests: The bursting of a complacency bubble

Francisco Ferreira's picture

Here was an exemplary developing country – nay, emerging market! In the 2000s, Brazil’s economic growth, albeit not stellar, was certainly steady. Inequality fell continuously and markedly throughout the decade and, as a result of those two things, poverty fell from 43% of the population in 2003 to around 25% by the end of decade (using a $4/day poverty line). By the World Bank’s definition – which is considerably more demanding than the government’s – the middle class grew in size by more than 50%, to over 60 million people in 2010. Infant mortality fell. Life expectancy rose. We were going to host the World Cup and the Olympics – the only country ever to do so back-to-back with the exception of the United States. The sun was shining... What could possibly go wrong?

Then, on June 13, a relatively small demonstration against a hike in bus fares in the city of São Paulo was violently repressed by police. The following two weeks saw a remarkable eruption of street protests across hundreds of Brazilian cities, with hundreds of thousands in the streets at certain times. In a soccer-loving country, Brazil’s successes at the Confederations Cup did nothing to mitigate popular anger. On the contrary, one of the protesters’ multiple banners was indignation at the scale of spending on (and corruption from) football stadia for next year’s World Cup, while schools, hospitals and public transport are allowed to languish.

Longreads: Rise of Middle Class Jobs, ‘Real’ Birth of the Solar Industry, Ecosystem Modeling, Stranded on the Roof of the World

Donna Barne's picture

Find a good longread on development? Tweet it to @worldbank with the hashtag #longreads.

 

LongreadsMiddle class gained on Twitter, with many people taking note of Thomas Friedman’s The Virtual Middle Class Rises. Friedman’s op-ed is about how cheaper computing is enabling people who earn only a few dollars a day to access the “kind of technologies and learning previously associated solely with the middle class.” Such access is driving social change and social protest, he says. It’s a trend also observed by sociologist and author Saskia Sassen in an interview with The Hindu, Why the Middle Class is Revolting, though Sassen’s vision is more pessimistic. Another trend—a  sharp, decade-long rise in “middle class” jobs in developing countries—is enlarging the middle class in the developing world and promises ultimately to drive global growth, says the International Labour Organization in a new study.  ILO says nearly 1.1 billion workers (42%) earn between $4 and $13 a day, which is middle class wages in the developing world.  The number of middle class workers in developing countries is expected to grow by 390 million to reach 51.9% by 2017.  The report notes, however, that “progress in poverty reduction has slowed” and the number of “near poor” is growing. Also check out the Guardian’s datablog on the report.

Workers by economic class, 1991-2011, developing world
Source: International Labour Organization

Growing the middle class

Francisco Ferreira's picture

También disponible en español

Shoppers in Chile

Since the Great Recession of 2008, there has been a widespread sense of malaise among the American middle class. Their incomes are close to stagnant, employment has not recovered, and the gap between them and the famously rich top 1% continues to grow. Look south of the Rio Grande, though, and it is quite a different picture. In the last decade, moderate poverty (under U$ 4 a day) in Latin America and the Caribbean fell from over 40% to 28%.

Longreads: Future Foods, Car Index, Mexico's Middle Class, Gen U and Africa's Era of Unemployment

Donna Barne's picture

Find a good longread on development? Tweet it to @worldbank with the hashtag #longreads.

 

Amid Olympics chatter, concern continues to grow over extreme weather and rising food prices, with many tweeting this week about IRIN’s “Food: Price Shock Hotspots.” BBC News Magazine  looks at possible future climate-friendly food stuffs —including insects, lab-grown meat, and algae—in “Future Foods: What Will We Be Eating in 20 Year’s Time?” Demand for protein is expected to expand along with the global middle class—which may be as large as 600 million people in G20 developing countries, according to a Carnegie Endowment paper, "In Search of the Global Middle Class." Authors Uri Dadush and Shimelse Ali argue their "Car Index" of the number of cars in circulation provides "a relatively good measure of the number of middle-class households." A  BRIC economy is the subject of the Washington Post’s "Returning Migrants Boost Mexico’s Middle Class" -- a look at how immigrants’ savings are being used back home. In Africa, progress could be hampered by jobless growth and growing numbers of jobless young people, according to "Generation U – Africa’s Era of Unemployment."

What Will South Asia Look Like in 2025?

Ejaz Ghani's picture

South Asia is among the fastest growing regions in the world, but it is also home to the largest concentration of people living in conditions of debilitating poverty, human misery, gender disparities, and conflict. In my book, Reshaping Tomorrow, I ask if South Asia is Ready for the Big Leap. 

The optimistic view is that India will achieve double-digit growth rates benefitting the rest of South Asia. The pessimistic view is that growth will be derailed by structural and transformational challenges. Which of these two outlooks will prevail?

The Optimistic Outlook

The optimistic outlook is based on favorable trends, including improved governance, the demographic dividend, the rise of the middle class, and the new faces of globalization. 

All countries in the region have an elected government for the first time since independence leading to governance that is more focused on development. Improved governance will enhance the politics of democratic accountability; diminishing the importance of identity politics; and the rates of incumbency – the likelihood of a sitting politician being re-elected – are down.

Is there a middle class in Asia? Depends on how you define it

Vikram Nehru's picture

A colleague from the Asian Development Bank visited the other day to talk about a study he is doing on Asia’s middle class.  Yet this is not an area we have focused on in the World Bank’s East Asia region – perhaps at our cost.  I quickly googled the topic and discovered a rapidly growing literature, including a paper each by Martin Ravallion and Nancy Birdsall

The Poor and the Middle Class

Eliana Cardoso's picture

Start counting the poor in India and you are bound to get into controversy. In “A Comparative Perspective on Poverty Reduction in Brazil, China and India,” Martin Ravallion (October 2009) calculates that 42% of the population in India in 2005 lived in households with income per person below US$1.25 a day (converted using purchasing power parity exchange rates for consumption in 2005). But he finds only 20% of the population under the US$1.25 poverty line when using a different method as a sensitivity test. The difference is huge. One number is twice the other and corresponds to two hundred million people (more than the whole population of Brazil!).

Ravallion repeats the exercise and finds that in Brazil, in 2005, the population who lived in households with income per person below US$1.25 a day (converted using purchasing power parity exchange rates for consumption in 2005) is 8%. When using the alternative sensitivity test method, it is 10%. Compared to India, the difference is small (2% of the population) between the two measures.

I suspect that instead of trying to calculate the number of people with less than US$ 1.25 a day, policies for poverty reduction should focus on the bottom quintile of the population: the 20% poorest group in the country.

One of my reasons is that inequality matters. Think of poverty as a relationship.