A great revolution of recent decades has been the powerful emergence of a significant global middle class. Among the destructive effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the greatest is its worldwide decline and the growth of those in poverty, except in China. According to a Pew Research Center report, after a decade of progress on both fronts the global middle class has shrunk by 54 million people relative to the forecasts for 2020, compounded by the reduction in the upper middle class and the wealthiest. And, far from recovering, it seems likely that their fortunes will stall. The country that has been hardest hit is India, accounting for 60% of this social reverse, having lost a third of its middle class (with a drop from 99 million to 66 million). But even developed economies have not been immune from the setback, which is likely to have sweeping social and political consequences, with a negative impact on global consumption and giving impetus to the rise of identity-based populist and authoritarian movements.
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