Growth of Global Middle Class

This module provides a roadmap to understanding the relationship between the expanding global middle class and its impact on environmental stress and consumption trends, urbanization, and global economic growth.

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Resource List

These resources provide a baseline of understanding, but as the scientific research continues to evolve, new data will become available.


  • International Monetary Fund: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) aims to encourage expansion and balanced growth of international trade and monetary systems, as well as making resources available to expand development capacities of developing countries, and publishes numerous reports, articles, and studies on economic policies and growth.
  • World Bank: The World Bank Group aims to end global extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity such that economic growth benefits all individuals of all income levels.
  • Pew Research Center: The Pew Research Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that seeks to inform the public of and support sound decision-making based on trends, issues, and attitudes in national and international politics, science, religion, economics, and demography.
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies: The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a nonprofit policy research institution that provides strategic reports on many domestic and international topics including international development, economics, and transnational challenges (e.g. energy, trade). CSIS provides research and analysis and develops policy initiatives.
  • National Intelligence Council: The National Intelligence Council (NIC) supports the Director of National Intelligence in the role as head of the Intelligence Community (IC) and is the IC’s center for long-term strategic analysis. The NIC publishes many reports, including reports on international trends on economic growth and outlooks.
  • Brookings Institution: The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit policy organization that conducts in-depth research on local, national, and global issues. Brookings focuses on independent analysis that provides ideas on how to solve problems facing society.
  • Center for Global Development: The Center for Global Development is an organization focused on informing policies and practices of countries and leading international organizations around global poverty and inequality.
  • The Pew Charitable Trust: The Pew Charitable Trust is a nonprofit organization that aims to inform public policy by conducting analysis and collecting data to improve the lives of individuals throughout the world.
  • The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: The Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development (OECD) is an international organization that aims to promote policies that improve economic and social well-being of people throughout the world.
  • The National Bureau of Economic Research: The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is a non- profit organization that seeks to inform academia, policy makers, and business leaders on economic research.

Recent Publications and Journal Articles:

  • The Strugglers: The New Poor in Latin America?: This Center for Global Development paper discusses the large section of populations in Latin America who have moved out of the global poor but not into the global middle class, the challenges these individuals face, and their vulnerability of falling back into the global poor.
  • The Middle of the Pyramid: Dynamics of the Middle Class in Africa: This report published by the African Development Bank examines the evolution and growth of the middle class in Africa.
  • Trying to Understand the PPPs in ICP 2011: Why are the Results so Different?: This NBER paper examines the purchasing power parity exchange rates (PPPs), a key component in comparing the relative purchasing power of people throughout the world based on cost of living. The paper focuses on the dramatic changes in the PPPs observed between the 2005 PPPs and 2011 PPPs, particularly in Asia and Africa, and the impact of these changes.
    • Citation: Deaton, Angus, and Bettina Tten. “Trying to Understand the PPPs in ICP 2011: Why are the Results so Different?” American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics 9, no. 1 (2017): 243-264. Web. 17APR17.
  • Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds: This NIC report provides an overview of current international economic, political, and societal trends, with commentary on what impact these trends may have over through 2030.
  • A Global Middle Class is More Promise than Reality: From 2001 to 2011, Nearly 700 Million Step Out of Poverty, But Most Only Barely: This Pew Research Center report provides a comprehensive overview of the changes in global economy over the past several decades, including details of several categories of middle class, and projects future trends in the global and in several national economies.
  • The Emerging Middle Class in Developing Countries: This OECD report focuses on the how the large portions of populations in several Asian countries will soon enter into the global middle class, driving global economic development.
  • The Unprecedented Expansion of the Global Middle Class: An Update: This Brookings Institution report provides current projections of the expected growth of the global middle class based on updated 2011 PPPs. The report also discusses recent developments and trends influencing the growth of the middle class throughout the world.
  • Economic Mobility and the Rise of the Latin American Middle Class: This World Bank report focuses on the middle class and a section of the population between poor and middle class in Latin America, focusing on the vulnerability, social and economic mobility, and challenges the middle class and this vulnerable group face.

Other Resources:

  • Hitting the Sweet Spot: The Growth of the Middle Class in Emerging Markets: This Ernst and Young report examines the rapid expansion of the global middle class populations in several emerging market countries and the impact that this new middle class will have on the developing and developed world.
  • Capturing the World’s Emerging Middle Class: This article from McKinsey & Company examines the emergence of the global middle class in Asia and other BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), discussing the economic opportunities presented by these rapidly expanding global middle class segments for multinational companies.
  • How a Growing Global Middle Class Could Save the World’s Economy: This article provides an overview of the growing global middle class and the significant role of the individuals entering the global middle class in society, politics, and the economy.
  • These 5 Facts Explain the Unstable Global Middle Class: This article discusses current trends in the growth of the global middle class.
  • The Swelling Middle: This page provides infographics on the expected growth of the global middle class and how this growth will occur in individual regions.
  • An Emerging Middle Class: This article provides a high-level description of the growth, importance, and vulnerabilities of the global middle class.
  • The Great Equalizer: The Rise of the Emerging Market Global Middle Class: This report focuses on the projected rapid and dramatic expansion of the global middle class in Asia, particularly in China and India.
  • The New Global Middle Class: A Cross-Over from West to East: This Brookings Institution publication discusses the how China’s middle class will expand, what impact it will have on global economic growth, and how its consumption will increase in the future, and challenges that will need to be addressed.
  • Who’s in the Middle?: This article discuss several definitions of middle class used in various research efforts.
    • Citation: The Economist. “Who’s in the Middle?” The Economist. February 14, 2009. Web. 17APR17.

These materials were developed as an initiative of the Advanced Thinking in Homeland Security (HSx) curriculum at the Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

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