The Rise of the Global Middle Class book cover


The Rise of the Global Middle Class

How the Search for the Good Life Can Change the World

Homi Kharas
Release Date: November 1, 2023

The middle class is the most successful group in world history. Sometime before 2030 the fifth billionth person will join the middle class. What started a little over two hundred years ago as a search for a better life has fueled unprecedented global transformation. In his new book Homi Kharas looks at how this powerful dream captivated generations through history, but its demands have led younger generations to ask if it is all worth it. Can the middle class continue to thrive, or will it falter under the stresses of automation, consumerism, pollution, and political strife?

The Rise of the Global Middle Class traces the history of the middle class from its origins in Victorian England to present day India. Along the way we meet knocker-uppers who have been displaced by alarm clocks. We learn how the Chinese Communist Party drew legitimacy from its ability to enlarge the Chinese middle class.

Kharas proposes a new middle-class manifesto that addresses the pressing issues of inequality, climate change, and technological advances.

“Homi Kharas delivers good news: in just two centuries, the world has moved from abject poverty to a middle class that includes half the world’s people. And further rapid progress is possible, including the end of poverty and billions added to the middle class. Kharas ably presents the facts, history, and underlying drivers of progress, but also highlights the huge challenges ahead, including the urgent need for global cooperation, social cohesion, quality education, environmental sustainability, and smart deployment of the new digital technologies. This is a deeply informed, humane, and timely book for readers everywhere.”
Jeffrey D. Sachs, professor, Columbia University, author of The End of Poverty
The success of societies everywhere depends on the health of the middle class. So does the success of the global economy. Homi Kharas brings decades of development experience to thinking about how best to strengthen middle classes everywhere in this very important book.
Lawrence H. Summers, Former US Treasury Secretary and President Emeritus at Harvard University
In his new book The Rise of the Global Middle Class, Homi Kharas, with his usual clarity of thought, takes on the complicated question of whether a growing global middle class is necessarily good for growth, prosperity, stability and happiness. The answer might surprise you. The book is a great read for the historically minded and intellectually curious!
Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization
Poverty, what creates it, feeds it and how to alleviate it are the themes of an old and vast body of work. The bulk of the attention of scholars, politicians and commentators has mostly centered on the very poor and the very rich. More specifically on how to lift people from poverty and how to ensure that income and wealth are fairly distributed. Attention to the unprecedented expansion of the middle-class has attracted far less attention than it deserves. Fortunately, we can now count on Homi Kharas’ lucid, original and rigorous work on the ascent of the middle class around the world. His pioneering research sheds light on the drivers of the new middle-class and highlights the policies needed to protect billions of people from backsliding into poverty.

Homi Kharas has produced a must-read book bound to become an obligatory reference for any serious discussion about the global middle class.
Moises Naim, Distinguished Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and author of The Revenge of Power