These days most Australians would identify as being middle class. But what is that exactly?
Julia Gillard talks of working families, John Howard the battlers and back in the formative years Bob Menzies spoke of the forgotten people. But are they all talking about the same people?
Vote: Where is the middle?
If you were from Britain or the United States you might qualify such a question by a range of factors around schooling, work, accent, work ethic, education or family but in Australia it often comes down to money, but not always.
One academic definition holds that the middle class are those with disposable incomes higher that the bottom 30 per cent but lower than the richest 20 per cent.
According to February 2012 data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average, full time employed adult earned $73,054.80. While the average full and part time total earnings was somewhat lower at $54,454.40.
More: Australian average wages
As far as the Federal government is concerned, to qualify for a Low Income Health Care Card you cannot earn more than $25,116 if single, or $45,344 for a couple with a one child. On the other side of the coin, the upper end seems to be $84,001 for singles and $168,001 for families, which is when the 30 per cent health insurance rebate drops to 20 per cent and the out-of-pocket medical threshold doubles to $5,000.
If you take the middle point of these figures, it suggests that $54,558 for singles and $106,672 for families is the governments take on where the middle sits.
Interestingly a recent study by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling found that you’d need $71,426 per year to support the average Sydney household. While Adelaide, the cheapest city, requires only $66,984.
These numbers suggests that not only will the benchmark of income vary greatly based on location but that perceptions of wealth will be relative to how you compare yourself to your friends and neighbours.
Where do you stand? Where do you think the middle begins and ends?
Vote in our Facebook poll: Where do you think middle class begins and ends?
We have put up two polls on our Facebook site and would love your feedback about where the middle begins and also where it ends.
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The views in article are those of Matthew King, the author and are not necessarily those of Telstra BigPond.