A Brief History of the American Middle Class

Y. Datta


The credit for the birth of the American middle class in 1914 goes to Henry Ford.

Reckless speculation in the New York Stock Market led to the Great Depression of 1929: the longest and most severe depression ever experienced by America, that led to an amazing level of unemployment that lasted till 1939.

Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was elected as President in 1933, instituted New Deal: a series of programs--the most important of which was the G.I. Bill.

The baby boom, increasing consumer income, affordability of cars and homes--coupled with the new interstate highway system—all worked together, that then led to a mass migration of the middle class from the inner cities to suburbia.

The years 1947-1973 are considered the golden years of America’s middle class: an age the U.S. will never experience again. The foundation of this goldilocks economy was the social covenant of shared prosperity between big business and big labor.

The 1980-2008 period marks ‘America in decline’ largely because America took a sharp turn toward unfettered capitalism and greed.

This led to a massive growth of the Financial Services Industry.

Income inequality has steadily been increasing in America for 45 years from 1974-2018, and by 2007 it touched or exceeded the lofty heights of 1928.

A socio-economic class lifestyle profile of America includes three groups: The Upper Class, The Middle Class, and The Lower Class, each with two classes, making it a total of six.

Finally, a look into the forces that led to the stock market crash of 2008.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/jepf.v8n3p127


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