There might be some assumptions about what the impact of the ongoing pandemic has been on the global middle class and there might also be the underlying realities that explain what’s going on.
COVID changed everything in supply and production chains and really pointed out the precarious nature of those systems, says Carlo Dade, director of the Trade and Investment Centre at Canada West Foundation (CWF).
“With the global middle-class, in the 2008-09 global financial crisis, one of the things that really surprised us and other observers was that the global middle class didn’t seem to take a hit,” says Dade. In terms of showing resilience before, analysts wondered if the global middle class would be an exception again during the pandemic.
There are several measures of how a person would be defined as a member of the global middle class — the World Bank has their own statistical calculation, as does the United Nations — and the size of the middle class would fluctuate because of the pandemic. Essentially it’s the number of people who have seen a significant enough increase in income to move out of poverty, and also to be psychologically comfortable of secure enough with their income that they begin to change consumption habits, explains Dade.
That includes purchasing better quality food and imported foods.
Of course not everyone has had the same experience throughout the pandemic, mostly for worse but there has been an exception.
“China was the only country that saw positive economic performance all throughout the pandemic, and that has really affected the way the global middle class has come out of this pandemic,” says Taylor Blaisdell, policy analyst at CWF.
Blaisdell reports that the size of the middle class in China decreased by 1.98 per cent, compared to India’s middle class decreasing by 33 per cent — a staggering figure.
“China’s at a very different starting point coming out of the pandemic than other countries,” says Blaisdell, granted the country entered the pandemic in a completely different state than other parts of the world.
Listen to the full conversation with Dade, Blaisdell, and RealAg Radio host Shaun Haney, for how other countries’ global middle classes fared and how other countries might rebuild their economies: