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Virus Shrank Global Middle Class for First Time Since 1990s

  • New studies point to effect on millions in developing world
  • More than 150 million fell out of middle-income ranks in 2020
Updated on

The global middle class shrank for the first time in decades last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, with almost two-thirds of households in developing economies reporting they suffered a loss in income, according to two new estimates based on World Bank data.

In a study published Thursday, researchers at the non-partisan Pew Research Center found that the ranks of the global middle class -- those “middle income” and “upper-middle income” people earning $10-$20 and $20-$50 per day respectively -- fell by 90 million people to almost 2.5 billion last year. That helped swell the ranks of the poor, or those living on less than $2 a day, by 131 million, Pew estimated.