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Public Policy Institute

The Elusive Middle in America – What Has Happened to Middle-Class Income?

This paper by AARP Public Policy Institute’s Gary Koenig reports that the middle class today is smaller as well as older, more educated, more racially and ethnically diverse, and more likely to be single than middle-class households in the past. It notes that most Americans identify themselves as middle class and that “middle class” is not synonymous with “middle income.”  However, due to the broad availability of data on Americans’ income, researchers typically use income as an indicator of membership in the middle class.  The paper shows what it means to be “middle class” under three income-based definitions and analyzes economic trends affecting Americans in the middle income brackets

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