Lawfare: Fear, Loathing in the Global Middle Class

The global economy has reduced poverty and increased the ranks of the middle class. For the first time in recorded history, people who earn enough for a comfortable life outnumber the poor. “But without a functioning system of social protection on which middle class individuals can rely, the growth in their numbers also carries significant risks of democratic retreat, conflict, and instability,” explains Raj M. Desai for Lawfare. Most middle-class growth took place in the Asia, especially China and India. Benefits of a large middle class include economic growth, innovation and widespread support for education and can include more demands of political leaders and resistance against corruption, yet research also suggests greater support for radicalism, authoritarianism and political violence. Desai suggests high expectations that go unfulfilled, an increasing disconnect with governments and fear over a return to poverty may explain the trends. “In other words, being a new member of the global middle class is a precarious thing,” Desai concludes. “An illness, a recession, an ecological or natural disaster can all plunge new middle-class members back into poverty.” Social protections including education, health care and retirement benefits for all income classes could ease the anxiety. – YaleGlobal

Lawfare: Fear, Loathing in the Global Middle Class

Less poverty, growing middle classes increase innovation, but expectations without social protections can add support for authoritarianism
Raj M. Desai
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Read the article from Lawfare about fears of the middle class.

Raj M. Desai is associate professor of international development at Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Department of Government at Georgetown University, and a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. His research focuses on the problems of social policy and economic reform, state fragility, foreign aid, and international development. He was previously a private sector development specialist at the World Bank. He received his PhD and MA degrees from Harvard University, where he was a National Science Foundation Fellow, and his BA from the University of California, Irvine.

© 2018 The Lawfare Institute

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