I just read on another blawg a comment that declared $400,000 a year was middle class. Discuss…
what does “middle class” even mean, anyway?
Clearly we think that idea is ridiculous. Even in Manhattan. There’s not any set definition of middle class, even in economics. I think in practice we mostly use Obama’s “Under 250K” definition, even though that’s from a couple presidential campaigns ago, or we use something like 25th percentile to 75th percentile of household or family income. If you’re curious, that’s something like 29K to 106K for household income . There might be adjustments for cost of living, but cost of living isn’t going to get to 400K. You can also look at median incomes by state, but with the caution that you shouldn’t cut the geographic area too small– it is likely that 400K complainer is living in or wants to live in a big house in Atherton or one of the nicer LA suburbs or Battery Park in Manhattan. There are plenty of places in the same commuting zones with decent schools that have wider ranges of income and housing prices. (And even there, 400K is well above median household income!)
Anyway, we don’t need to go on too much at length as this topic went around the blogosphere this past Spring. Here are some links worth reading.
Fire Blogger Manifesto– why it’s important to be transparent about income.
Who is the audience for this blog? (This one also has especially great comments.)
Here’s another forum thread on why the post from Financial Sam about needing 300K/year to be middle class in SF is so much BS. (I’m leery about sending more traffic his way though because that rewards him for spewing crud.) That post did finally get me to stop clicking on his click-bait headlines when they pop up in blogrolls though. He’s another blogger with an extremely limited lens. His post probably emphasizes the point most of all (by the way he completely misses it) that middle-class people have to make trade-offs within the set of middle-class lifestyles. If you can have all of the variants of middle-class lifestyle (geographic location, house, schools, cars, vacations, no college debt, insurance, stuff, no real money worries), then you’re not actually middle-class.
Middle class: What everyone claims to be, but nobody knows what it actually is.