Essay on Factors Affecting Middle Class

Published: 2021-08-17
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Wesleyan University
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The word middle class is often used in economics to refer to a class of people in the society. However, there is no common agreement as to the meaning of the middle class. While some scholars define it regarding lifestyle, others have defined it regarding income. Even those who define the middle class regarding income do not agree on how many levels of income qualifies one to be regarded, middle class. A wider characterization has defined middle income as those who lie between the 20% poorest and the 20% richest people in the society (Luhby and Baker, 2017). Wealth has also been used to define the middle class. Some people may not have regular income, but they have huge investments. Defined regarding wealth, the middle income in the spectrum of wealth is regarded as those among the middle three-fifths. Consumption has also been used to define middle class and includes consumption regarding transport, housing, food, entertainment, and other items. Those lying in the middle fifth of spending are classified as middle class. Other factors that have been used to define middle class include demographics and aspirations. While there have been various criteria used to define middle class, there seems to be a consensus that there are many factors that affect them.

Literature Review

The evolution of the financial sector has resulted in many products. Modern innovations have made it easier to access credit. Some people even take unsecured consumer debts. Hodson, Dwyer, and Neilson (2014) argued that while credit has some positive impacts, it can also cause negative consequences. The positive impact of credit is that I smoothen life transitions as well as difficulties. However, its negative consequences arise from the increased financial risks as well as stresses that arise from taking unsecured debt. The authors found that those in the middle-income bracket suffers one of the greatest disturbances to their mental health from taking credit. Often, affluent borrowers are hardly unmoved by debt, indicating that the use of short-lived debt as a solution strategy for the financially stable. However, those who are least advantaged borrowers suffer little from debt, probably since securing funds to be spent on necessities is their most pressing concern. However, the Great Recession resulted in increased distress for everyone irrespective of the class.

Many countries were hit by the economic downtown of 2008. One of the countries that were affected was Ireland. Consequently, many families were under pressure in their household budgets. Muhlau (2014) examined how the recession altered class differences due to their experience on the economic strain. Findings suggest that the many middle-class problems during to the financial downtown of 2008. The middle class just largely affected than any other group. Social class was also further hit by unemployment. Following the economic crisis, many companies laid off employees and most of those who were affected are in the middle class. Those who lost job found it even difficult to get a job again after the crisis. The recession increased the risk of all classes of employees. Self-employed workers, as well as small employers, were subjected to the largest increase the percentage of experienced financial challenges. The economic well-being of the middle class is mostly associated with the state of the local economy, more than that of working classes. The authors found that the middle class was strongly affected by the recession due to the privileges they access to credit before the recession period which may have resulted in a not high level of indebtedness among the middle-classes. Additionally, the middle-class faced a strong pressure to de-leverage following the economic downturn.

Studies have shown that the middle-class families face unique problems in the society. One of the problems is managing a lot of possessions. The properties found in homes of the middle class are so many that they have been found to elevate the levels of hormones associated with stress among the mothers. For example, one a quarter of the garages have been found to be used for parking, but the rest are full of stuff. The rising popularity of the big-box stores has led to an increase in peoples tendency to keep a stockpile of food as well as cleaning supplies, creating a clutter that is difficult to contain. The extension of houses to create master suites for parents have resulted in renovations to create spaces that are hardly used. Even in situations where there is favorable weather in the year, the families hardly use their yards. The middle class is often associated with fragmented dinners where every person tends to eat in his or her room hence threatening the social fabric, traditions, and culture of families and communities. While most families rely on convenience food like the frozen meals and par-baked bread, they save between 10 and 12 minutes per meal (Sullivan, 2012).

When economies are growing, everyone wins. The middle class has jobs while the wealthy earns better revenue. However, when the economy is doing poorly, few people benefits while the majority who can be in the category of middle class loses. There have been concerns about the middle class in the US after the economy stagnated. The middle class forms a substantial fraction of the population, and policymakers and politicians usually focus on improving their wellbeing. In the US, there have been efforts to address the challenges faced by the middle class. It has been observed that while the rich are getting richer, the middle class are earning lower and lower. Therefore, one challenge faced by the middle class is income inequality between the rich and the poor due to high unemployment (Mayer, 2017). Wages have been stagnant for long yet the profitability of most companies have not changed.

While there have been concerns about the fate of the middle class following tough economic situations, Boudreaux et al. argued that there is nothing like the middle class. To them, the middle class is often used by the politicians for political mileage. For example, in Canada, the politicians often suggests that although the economy has been growing, the benefits hardly goes to the middle class. Rather, the benefits go toward making the rich already rich. There has been a consensus among the western states that the economic situation among the middle class has stagnated. However, according to the authors, the evidence is often against the claim that the middle-class population is encountering challenges. Since policies are often made targeting the middle class, the authors pointed out that such policies will appear to be medicine for non-existent illness. The author suggested that to make proper policies that will address the challenges faced by the middle class; it is first important to get an accurate understanding of the living standards of the middle class to not only avoid a false diagnosis of economic ills, and consequently resulting in reckless treatment of the ills.


Middle income is a term that is often used by politicians, policymakers, and economists. They constitute a substantial fraction of a countrys population and is deemed to play a critical role in the economy. Several people have tried to define middle class. However, there has not been a universal agreement. However, the various definitions of the middle class have attempted to use factors such as income, lifestyle, consumption, demographics, and aspirations. Many middle-income families face problems that include huge debts, clatter in homes, unemployment or risk of unemployment, and bad policies. Some people have argued that middle class is a myth. It is not existing, and there is no reason even to imagine formulating policies to address it.

Annotated Bibliography

Hodson, R., Dwyer, R. E., & Neilson, L. A. (2014). Credit card blues: The middle class and the hidden costs of easy credit. The Sociological Quarterly, 55(2), 315-340.

The modern era is characterized by innovations and dynamism in the financial sector. Unlike in the past where access to credit was difficult, obtaining credit nowadays is very easy and convenient. In this article, Hodson, Dwyer, and Neilson (2014) examined the impact of credit cards on the middle class. The researchers surveyed 8,984 participants on their ease of access to credit, and debts. Results of the study suggest middle class has huge debts due to ease of access to credit.

Luhby, T., & Baker, T. (2017). What is middle class, anyway? CNN. Retrieved from has been much class about how to save the American middle class. Until Luhby and Baker (2017) began to find out the definition of a middle class. The authors examined the various definition of the middle class. The results of the investigations revealed that middle class could be defined using various criteria including income, aspiration, consumption, wealth, and demographics.

MacIntyre, H., & Lammam, C. (2017). The Myth of Middle-Class Stagnation in Canada. Towards a Better Understanding of Income Inequality in Canada, 160-182.

Some scholars and experts contend that there is a middle-class category of people in the middle class and that policymaking should target them. However, in his article, MacIntyre & Lammam (2017) argued that middle class is just a myth. The author further argued that since it is a myth, there is no point looking for solutions for a problem that do not exist.

Mayer, G. (2017). Strengthening the Middle Class: Challenges for Policymakers. Retrieved from

Stagnations in some economies have caused huge worries for the middle class. Rising inequality in earnings and stagnating wages have continued to elicit reactions from politicians and policymakers. There have been calls to address the concerns of the middle class. Policymakers have been considering various options. In this article, Mayer examined changes in underemployment from 1975 to 2015. The author obtained data from Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). He found that increase in underemployment might be associated with lower average earnings among graduates and other college-educated workers.

Sullivan, M. (2012). Trouble in paradise: UCLA book enumerates challenges faced by middle-class L.A. families. UCLA Newsroom, June 19, 2012. Retrieved from

Families experience challenges depending on the social status of the community. The low-income family has their unique challenges, and also the same applies to the wealthy families. Middle-income families are also affected. Sullivan (2012) narrowed down his investigation to the challenges experienced by the middle class in Los Angeles. However, instead of conducting a fresh research, the author discussed what has been done by others. Some of the challenges faced by the middle class are underutilized facilities, a lot of unnecessary stuff in the house, preference to unhealthy food, and so forth.


Hodson, R., Dwyer, R. E., & Neilson, L. A. (2014). Credit card blues: The middle class and the hidden costs of easy credit. The Sociological Quarterly, 55(2), 315-340.

Luhby, T., & Baker, T. (2017). What is middle class, anyway? CNN. Retrieved from, H., & Lammam, C. (2017). The Myth of Middle-Class Stagnation in Canada. Towards a Better Understanding of Income Inequality in Canada, 160-182.

Mayer, G. (2017). Strengthening the Mi...

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