Where Does the Middle Class Live?

There is much talk about the growth of the middle class globally. But few people know where it lives. We may believe it is large in China, but how large? We put together a simple country comparison using C-GIDD data.

The interactive graph below shows the top 10 middle class populations for countries by region or sub-region (UN’s definitions). We use AMAI’s definition of middle class: the sum of lower middle (D+), middle (C), and upper middle (C+) classes. We exclude marginalized and lower classes (E and D), and upper class (AB).

A few observations:

  • The global middle class has 2.2 billion people in 2016.
  • Almost exactly half of the global middle class lives in Asia.
  • China has by far the largest middle class (338 million), but it is heavily weighted towards the lower middle class.
  • The US middle class is around half its population. It is perhaps smaller than observers expect, but this is in part because the upper class is large (as is the lower class).
  • Africa’s middle class (130 million) is almost as large as the United States middle class (161 million). Around half of Africa’s middle class lives in North Africa.


The analysis was done May 11, 2016 and is an update of the 2015 analysis.