Who will drive consumer spending in the next decade?

By Kristofer Hamel, Chief Operating Officer, World Data Lab, and Homi Kharas, Interim Vice President, Brookings; Senior Economic Advisor World Data Lab1 

shoppingIn October 2018, the international community crossed a historic threshold: the majority of humanity no longer lives in or near poverty. Now and continuing into the foreseeable future, most people on Earth are middle class or rich. This tipping point is of interest to both the research community as well as global and regional companies searching for new markets.

But who exactly are these new middle-class consumers, and how will their profile change over the next decade?

Answering this question begins with an understanding of household classifications. Our projections (all per person spending according to 2011 purchasing power parity) designate households as those in extreme poverty (households spending below USD 1.90 per day), those in the lower middle class (households spending USD 11-50 per day) and those in the upper middle class (households spending USD 50-110 per day). Two other groups –households “vulnerable” to falling back into poverty as well as the “rich” who sit at the top end of the distribution – round out our classifications.
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