China's middle class grew by 203 million in 10 years: report

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 July, 2015, 6:58am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 July, 2015, 8:13pm

The mainland's middle-income class grew by 203 million people in the 10 years after 2001, a Pew Research Centre report found - evidence, it said, of a "pivot to the east".

Globally, however, the lurch of hundreds of millions of people out of poverty since the beginning of the millennium had not resulted in a truly global middle class, said the centre. Instead, the improvement in living conditions for almost 700 million people had been a step forward from desperate existences on US$2 or less a day into a low-income world of living on US$2-$10 daily.

The report, released on Wednesday, looked at changes in income for more than 110 countries between 2001 and 2011.

More than half of the world's middle-class population was living in the Asia and South Pacific region by 2011 - a jump from 31 per cent to 51 per cent in a decade. Largely due to Asia, the world's middle-income population doubled in that time, from 399 million to 784 million. But the gains were not seen everywhere.

The report called its overall findings "the uneven geography of the emerging middle class".

It also noted that Europe and North America's share of the upper-middle-income population fell from 76 per cent to 63 per cent by 2011.

Despite China's rise, more than three-quarters of Chinese were still low-income. Other countries seeing a shift into the middle class, where poverty fell 15 per cent and the middle-income population grew at least 10 per cent, included Bhutan, Moldova, Ecuador and Argentina.