Measuring the Middle: Assessing What It Takes to Be Middle Class

Measuring the Middle: Assessing What It Takes to Be Middle Class

September 8, 2005
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This report is the second in a series of Demos publications which looks specifically at growing the middle class.
 
This paper is the first step in a larger endeavor to track and measure America's middle class. In this paper, we outline the characteristics that contribute to middle class access and stability -- such as homeownership and education level. To begin assessing the major trends affecting America's middle class, particularly the ability of households to enter into it, we offer a rudimentary Middle Class Security Index.
 
The trends shown in this paper provide cause for concern. Expansion of the middle class -- arguably the great American project -- has stalled in recent decades, while historic disparities between whites and nonwhites endure in many areas. And, among those who have reached the middle class, overall security seems to be slipping in several important ways.
 
This is not how America is supposed to be, or how it needs to be. We conclude this paper with a set of common sense policy recommendations that Demos has developed to strengthen the middle class.