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On the Middle

I read an article called "Rethinking Rich" talking about how you can't judge a person's wealth "status" by what they make, but on how they spend it, or more importantly, do not spend it. Someone who makes low six figures but buys a 600k house and a new BMW every year but doesn't have an emergency fund is just as susceptible to a $20k medical emergency as anyone else.

Unfortunately, despite quite a bit of Googling I can't seem to find the article.

But it did get me thinking about the state of how we think about wealth, the definition of the middle class specifically.

This is a concern professed by both current presidential candidates.

The existing social definition of "Middle Class" is essentially urging the following steps:

  1. Take out $25k-$75k worth of loans to attend a four year college
  2. Get a Salaried Job in your field
  3. Take out a $5k-$10k loan to buy a car
  4. Spend $20k-$40k on a wedding.
  5. Take out a $200k-$300k loan to buy a house
  6. Take out a $20k-$30k loan to buy a nicer car to advertise to everyone that you can afford a nicer car

A millennial born in 1987 will be turning 30 next year, and most of millennials got stuck after #1, as they had problems finding jobs.

Demographically, they are rejecting everything on that list. They don't want to own cars, they aren't getting married, and while they are interested in buying homes it is a lot tougher to get a mortgage than it used to be, especially when you still are carrying $25k+ of student loan debt.

That said, they seem to be saving for retirement far earlier than Gen Xers, and are contributing more.

The other side of the middle class is the assumption of settling down and starting a family.

You'd think with the advent of tinder, Millennials would be having more sex than ever. They aren't.

Above-average appearance Millennials are probably doing fine. For the statistical hump of average looking Millennials, it is a tough game out there which many choose not to play.

As in all things in school, the attractive cool kids set the rules, and now-a-days it is fine to be promiscuous and have a string of hookups as long as you aren't *clingy*. "Clingy" is the new "slut". Shaming people for wanting to begin a steady relationship rather than remaining casual.

Which makes a lot of sense with everything above. In all instances Millennials are choosing freedom versus tradition.

Which is absolutely the prerogative of the young. If their behavior made complete sense to this old man they'd be doing something wrong.

This isn't a "darn kids these days" post. I just think it is interesting, that most of the talk about the declining middle class has been on the "supply" side. There just don't exist enough well paying jobs to sustain a middle class lifestyle.

But from looking at this, it could very well be there is also a declining cultural "demand" to be middle class, or, at least to acquire its common trappings.