The fragile middle is a term adopted by the FT to refer to some 2.8bn middle class people in emerging economies who are vulnerable to ebbing fortunes. In a series of the same name the FT defined the Fragile Middle as being those people in the world earning between $2 and $10 a day. Using the World Bank’s Povcal database, the FT found that 40 per cent of the world’s population fell into that bracket with almost 1bn of them existing on $2-$3 per day. Consideration of what happens to the Fragile Middle was seen as important because multinational companies fortunes’ depend of the rise of a global middle class.
Fragile Middle in the news
At the end of April 2014, Branko Milanovic, an academic writing in the Financial Times, looked at the problem of income inequality and pointed out that people moving from absolute poverty (defined as $1.25 a day) to the ranks of those who are marginally better off had created a false impression. It would be more accurate, he said, to consider those whose incomes were 25 per cent below the median and 25 per cent above (in other words, those earning between $4 and $6.5 a day). By this measure, he wrote, only 13 per cent of the world population qualified. Even by that more prosperous measure the middle class were vulnerable, he said.