My immediate and extended family seems interested in playing Powerball on a semi-regular basis. I’ve always been against playing the Lottery personally, but am more than happy to share in the winnings. It somehow feels like cheating. Ok, so I am too complex for my own good. Anyway, whats been particularly humorous to me has been the notion that people seem to pile on when the jackbox gets really large. In other words, “it’s not worth my time to play for $100M, but $300M, hey that’s real money” (but more stress).

I read a recently released demographics study by Pew Research called: The Middle Class Blues: Pricey Neighborhoods, High Stress (I get a little queasy by the low sample size, but I’ll go with it).

The survey, conducted January 24 through February 19, 2008, asked respondents to place themselves into one of five socio-economic classes.3 Just over half (53%) of all respondents say they are middle class, and this proportion is consistent across the three cost-of-living tiers — with 52% of those who live in high-cost areas, 54% of those in medium-cost areas and 50% of those in low-cost areas saying they are middle class.

I found it interesting the cost of housing was a primary determinate of middle class status within a particular location (housing is local). So New Yorkers who visit Michigan (ahem…self-included) need to do some adjusting.

Real estate is a larger share of personal wealth in high-cost areas. Among the middle class, 41% of those who live in expensive regions say that their homes account for more than half their financial worth. Only a quarter (24%) of middle class Americans in low-cost metropolitan areas say so. Of course, homes in costly areas also are worth more: 69% of middle class respondents in those regions say the value of their homes is $250,000 or more. That compares with 14% of the middle class in low-cost areas.

That in it self is not eye opening but rather the idea that housing is the primary variable for differences in net worth and self-perception is.

Despite these differences, though, middle class residents of costly and low-cost areas are about equally likely to have lifestyle amenities such as flat-screen TVs, two or more cars, and paid household help.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the downturn and the rise in foreclosures changes the boundaries of the middle class definition.

Give me $100M and I’ll relax by the pool stress free.

2 Responses to “[PowerHouse] Middle Class Status Variable Is A Constant”

  1. Jonathan, do you know where and the percentage of the highest return of investment in real estate registered since 2000 in the World? Thank you.

  2. Alan Davis says:

    I’ve been reading about the the decline of the middle class a lot lately. I thought your story on Middle class and nieghborhoods went well with something else I read today. This is from a story from Santa Barbara, CA. about one of the homeless parking lots.

    “Here’s a quote from the coordinator of this new parking lot program:

    “The way the economy is going, it’s just amazing the people that are becoming homeless. It’s hit the middle class.”

    Think about that: Twelve parking lots full of middle-class homeless people in one of the nation’s most affluent areas.”

    Life in my circle of friends is showing cracks too. I found another site in my travels thru the web that is working to improve things for the middle class:

    I enjoyed your blog.