What exactly does being middle class mean?

The dictionary defines the middle class as the social group between the upper and working classes, including professional and business people and their families.

Economist, Justin Visagie from the Economic Planning and Research Institution in his research paper on the topic states that in South Africa, thinking about what it means to be middle class is complicated by the low average and median levels of incomes in the country and the very wide distribution of income.

Economist at Nascence Advisory and Research, Xhanti Payi says the term 'middle class' is often contested and can be problematic in a philosophical context.

It really is difficult to define in any useful way these days.

Xhanti Payi, Economist at Nascence Advisory and Research

Personal finance columnist, Maya Fisher-French believes the moment an individual begins paying personal income tax, they fall into some middle income bracket, which is where some of the discontent emerges and sits.

The middle class is sitting saying our tax pressures are rising, what are we getting out of it? So i think for me income tax is some signal that you're move into the middle class bracket but certainly people earning up to R40 000 a month would say; look I'm middle class.

Maya Fisher-French, Personal finance columnist

If you look at middle class pressures, these are people who expect to own a car, they have an expectation to own their own home, they have an expectation to educate their children at a tertiary level. I suppose the question is where does that middle class cut off at the top?

Maya Fisher-French, Personal finance columnist

Payi added an interesting element to the debate saying some middle class people are poor which became clear when the #FeesMustFall movement erupted because you had parents saying they were unable to take their children to higher learning institutions.

Listen to the clip below for more:


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