What is the middle class, and who defines it? There is no solid description with clear salary ranges that define the middle class, but agencies and economists do try to put numbers to this seemingly abstract group of people.
As of 2009, the poverty threshold had not changed since 2006. For a family of four, it was £13,781. For a family of three, it was £10,744. For a family of two and unrelated individuals, it was £8,801 and £6,883, respectively.
U.S. Census Quintiles
The reported household income is broken into quintiles (or five divisions). In 2007, the middle quintile reported an income range of £23,400 to £37,479. Many economists and politicians alike believe this range is too narrow to encompass the true middle class. Therefore, a more generous range would include the middle three quintiles, which makes the range from £12,465 to £59,608. This range accounts for 60 per cent of all households, and with the lower end balancing near the poverty threshold, this range may not be completely accurate.
The 2008 census reported the medium income as £32,651. The middle income range is 75 per cent to 150 per cent of the median income. This would make the middle class income range £24,488 to £48,977. To most, this range seems small, and surveys conducted by the PewResearch Center find that many who fall outside this range still consider themselves middle class.
Economist Gary Burtless of Brookings Institution indicates that the middle class encompasses from one-half the median income to twice the median income. This would make the middle class income range £16,326 to £65,302. MIT economist Frank Levy believes that those in the middle class have enough money to afford the basic building blocks of a good life, including a house, a car and money to pay necessary bills. He suggests that families in their prime earning years are middle class if they fall between £19,500 and £58,500.
More Than Income
Surveys conducted by the PewResearch Center confirm that salary, or income, range is not the only determining factor of what class a person considers himself. Four out of 10 of us with incomes below £15,000 classify themselves as middle class. On the other end, one-third of those who enjoy incomes over £97,500 say they are middle class.