Friday, May 06, 2011

class in africa

One in three Africans is middle class, a rising group of consumers to rival those of China and India, researchers have found. Mthuli Ncube, the African Development Bank's chief economist said the study used an absolute definition of middle class, meaning people who spend between $2 and $20 a day. Africa's middle class had risen to about 34% (313 million) of the continent's population but of those an estimated 21% earn only enough to spend $2 to $4 a day, about 180 million people vulnerable to economic shocks that could knock them out of the new middle class. 61% of Africa's population living on less than $2 a day.

However, at the top of the pyramid, there exists an elite of about 100,000 Africans who possess a collective net worth of 60% of the continent's gross domestic product in 2008, the report said.

As some economists are prone to do , Ncube uses a consumption pattern to define class, claiming record numbers of people in Africa own houses and cars, use mobile phones and the internet and send their children to private schools and foreign universities. Sales of fridges, TVs and mobile phones have surged in virtually every African country in recent years, the report said. Possession of cars and motorcycles in Ghana, for example, has gone up by 81% in the past five years. The add lifestyle to the definition. The Africa middle classes are more likely to have salaried jobs or own small businesses. They tend not to rely entirely on public health services, seeking more expensive medical care. The middle classes tend to have fewer children and spend more on their nutrition and schooling.

Socialist Banner however uses the Marxian method of defining class and challenges the whole concept of a "middle class". Anyone with no other choice but to sell their physical or mental labour power in order to earn money which provides the means necessary to sustain living is, no matter what the difference in their salary/wages, job description/ responsibility, a member of the working class. Sociological definitions based upon cultural preferences, job types (professional, salaried or blue collar, waged), or number of TVs or cars owned in more likely to reflect a false consciousness of one's actual class position.

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