The Indian middle class now owns more gadgets and is a little better educated, but is still not as prosperous as has been believed to be, says data from the 2011-12 round of the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) conducted by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER).
The data, collected from 42,000 families, shows that with rising incomes — the real median income grew from Rs. 28,200 per year in 2004-05 to Rs. 37,500 in 2011-12 — asset ownership of the middle class has also increased.
Purchase of air-conditioners, colour TVs, refrigerators, cars, laptops and credit cards has doubled over the last seven years, and cellphone ownership has exploded from 7 per cent of the population in 2004-05 to 82 per cent. The Hindu is reporting exclusively from the findings of India IHDS 2011-12, the largest independent nationally representative sample survey . The annual income of the middle class remains relatively low. If the Indian population is divided into five classes of equal sizes of 20 per cent each, the poorest quintile (20 per cent) will earn between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 33,000 annually as a household, the next 20 per cent will earn between Rs. 33,001 and Rs. 55,640. Families that earn between Rs. 55,000 and Rs. 88,800 annually would be in the third quintile and fall in the middle of India’s income distribution. The fourth quintile will include families earning between Rs. 88,801 and Rs. 1.5 lakh annually and those with income above Rs. 1.5 lakh per year will comprise the richest 20 per cent population. According to the Planning Commission, a family earning Rs. 55,000 annually would be at or just above the urban poverty line for 2011-12.