The concept of the middle class is probably one of the most debated in the social sciences. Clearly, there is no consensus on how to define the “middle class.” Like all social construction, each one can assign to the concept the attributes that they prefer or that serve their argument the most.
The middle class can be defined from income, spending, consumption capacity, schooling or lifestyle. For the OECD or for the World Bank, its definition depends more on disposable income per day on a very broad scale that can go from 13 to 70 USD per day or annualized salaries of between 18,000 to 90,000 USD in 2019 indicators. 40 percent of Mexicans would be middle class. This definition is a combination of income, spending, and lifestyle. Some other definitions do it more mechanically. The middle class would by definition be the one that does not belong to the lower or upper class strata, therefore, it would represent a third of the population.
Beyond the “objective” or “conceptual” definitions, the self-perception of class may be more illustrative. The exit survey conducted by Parametría for the last election on June 6 included the class perception question and other demographic data such as schooling or income, variables associated with this perception or definition.
The truth is that beyond the OECD, World Bank or INEGI measurements, more Mexicans consider themselves middle class than the conceptual or objective indicators say. Based on these numbers, it seems that what we are talking about is a trend, dynamic definition, rather than a particular stratum.
Of the voters on June 6, 3 out of 4 voters consider themselves middle class: middle-middle (36 percent) or lower-middle (35 percent), and another 4 percent consider themselves middle class high. In other words, it is a very asymmetric middle class, most of it is between the middle-middle and lower-middle class.
This data is not very different from that reported in the open population. The self-perception of class among the open population is 27 percent, low-middle class, 31 percent, middle-middle 35 percent, middle-high 2 percent, and high 2 percent. Compared to the class perception of those who came out to vote on June 6, the lower-middle class is slightly below.
The purpose of an opinion or self-perception question is to ideally identify or self-classify in a way that is unequivocal and exclusive of other categories. However, the concept of the middle class may be so diffuse that it was pertinent or necessary to divide the category into subcategories. That is why it was necessary to divide the middle class into lower, upper and middle classes.
As expected, a very high correlation is observed between income or schooling and perception of class. The higher the income, the higher the perception of class. It is very notable that even among those who consider themselves to be from the same social stratum, the correlation is greater as income increases or decreases. For example, within the middle-middle class category, as income increases, identification is greater. Contrary to what happens with the lower-middle class, in which identification is lower as income increases. This same logic applies to lower-class or upper-class perceptions.
A similar trend is observed in schooling. The higher the schooling, the greater the identification with the upper middle or middle middle class. The less schooling, the greater the identification with the lower or lower middle class.
Probably the most surprising data in class perception is the correlation with age. In general, at a younger age, the perception of social class is higher. This is visible for any stratum, except for the lower-middle class, where the trend is not clear. But for those who are classified as low, middle-middle, or upper-middle class it is obvious.
It is clear that the better the perception of the class, the preference for National Action was greater. This trend is not the case for the voters of the PRI or Morena because we are referring to the largest electoral forces. Consequently, the voters with the highest incomes voted for National Action, unlike what happened in the 2018 election where the higher the schooling and the higher the income they voted for Morena.
It appears that the President made a segment out of a trend. The higher the schooling and the higher the income, the lower the vote for Morena and the higher the vote for National Action, today the most competitive opposition party. A natural question from the presidential speech is if the President tries to persuade a group of voters to return to Morena or if his annoyance with the “middle class” (what he identifies as a group) makes him prefer to exclude him from his base. of voters. The election of 2024 seems distant, but solving these questions is essential to anticipate the actions, strategies and results towards our next presidential election.
Methodological note. Parametry. Exit survey. Representativeness: National. Number of interviews: 2,192 face-to-face surveys at the polls on June 6, 2021. Statistical confidence level: 95%. Margin of error: (+/-) 2.1%. Design, sampling, field operations and analysis: Parametría SA de CV. Sampling unit: The electoral sections reported by the INE. Sampling method: systematic random with probability of selection proportional to the size of the electoral section. Target population: People 18 years of age and older who cast their vote.