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MIDDLING RESULTS

This income calculator will tell you if you are in the global middle class

White picket fence
Trent McBride/Creative Commons
The global poor remains fenced off from the middle class.
This article is more than 2 years old.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re probably rich, at least by global standards.

To see for yourself, plug your income into Pew’s new global income calculator. Based on your daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly income, it tells you your place within the global income distribution.

The calculator draws on the results of a recent Pew study of incomes in 111 countries, which found that the majority of people—71%live on less than $10 dollars a day, including 15% who live on less than $2 a day, the widely used standard for global poverty. Only 13% of people are in what it defines as the global middle income bracket, making between $10 and $20 a day.

Most people in developed countries such as the US or the UK are on the higher end of this distribution. While only 16% of people worldwide are in the upper-middle income ($20.01-$50 a day) or high income ($50.01 and over) brackets, over 80% of Americans and Brits fall in these categories. 

Of course, the standards Pew used to calculate its classes are quite different from those of wealthier countries. Currently, the poverty line in the continental US is an annual income for one person of $11,770, which, at $30 a day, would put one squarely in Pew’s upper-middle income category.

The project does however offer some perspective on the state of the world’s people at a time when 795 million worldwide are malnourished and over 750 million lack access to clean water. Some of Pew’s results give reason to hope: Between 2001 and 2015 the share of the global population that it classified as middle-income doubled from 7 to 13 percent, author Rakesh Kochhar explains to Quartz. That translates to roughly 385 million people, he says, with over 200 million in China, whose economic boom has nurtured a growing middle class.

Even more promising is the large decrease in the global poor, with the percentage classified as “poor” dropping from 29% in 2001 down t0 15%—a decrease of 669 million people. Most of those joined the “low-income” bracket, classified as a daily income between $2.01 and $10, which grew by 694 million people.

But not much has changed at the top, especially in terms of which countries have the richest citizens. “In 2001, the advanced economies accounted for 9 out of 10 high income people globally and they still do,” Kochhar says.

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