The social class that Luis Buñuel once found “discreetly charming” may disappear.
Concern that the Western bourgeoisie may join the dinosaur in extinction comes in waves, roughly once a decade, but this time the effects of the economic crisis on the middle classes have been especially negative. US banks, for instance, now own more net worth in the form of residential housing than all individual Americans combined. A clear title to your own home was once the touchstone of middle class respectability.
On the other hand, as Louise Willey, a Price- WaterhouseCoopers consultant points out, next year will see the Asian and Pacific middle classes surpass, in sheer numbers, their peers in Europe and North America. The financial disruption that crushed American household wealth and threw Europeans out of jobs is usually cited as a cause of the alleged demise of the middle class. Yet Time Magazine ran an article decrying the same phenomenon as long ago as 2001, citing automation as the cause.