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Submitted by Vikram on
Dear KJ I really like your point -- but have the following thoughts. First, remember that these are per capita numbers -- so assuming a typical household size of say 5 (a recent survey found it to be around 4.8 in India), even a PPP$2 a day translates to a household income of PPP$10 a day -- which, using PPP exchange rates, translates to about Rs. 150 a day in a country like India (Rs. 4500 a month), and one could conceivably argue that this may be just enough to provide a few creature comforts that may, at a pinch, be described to as the lower end of the "lower middle class". On the other hand, applying your (and Birdsall's) PPP$10 a day would mean a PPP$50 a day income for the household -- or around PPP$18,000 a month -- a very decent sum by Indian standards (over Rs. 270,000 a year!). Second,the word "middle" in "middle class", suggests that there should be some part of the income distribution above and below this group. By moving the upper bound of the middle class to the 99th percentile, you are reducing the portion above the middle class to a wafer-thin 1 percent. True, in India, that may make a lot of sense -- because an upper class of 1 percent actually represents a resounding 10 million people! And as you point out, the middle class according to this definition would be a huge 40 million. Incidentally, I did find some data on India that is instructive: PPP$20 and above -- 8 million PPP$10-20 -- 15 million PPP$ 4-10 -- 74 million PPP$ 2-4 -- 170 million Total -- 267 million This is where the "great Indian middle class" concept comes from -- the basis for the usually bandied about number of 250 million that one sees in newspapers and magazine articles. Best regards Vikram