By: López-Calva, Luis Felipe (World Bank)
Rigolini, Jamele (World Bank)
Torche, Florencia (New York University)
Middle class values have long been perceived as drivers of social cohesion and growth. In this paper we investigate the relation between class (measured by the position in the income distribution), values, and political orientations using comparable values surveys for six Latin American countries. We find that both a continuous measure of income and categorical measures of income-based class are robustly associated with values. Both income and class tend to display a similar association to values and political orientations as education, although differences persist in some important dimensions. Overall, we do not find strong evidence of any “middle class particularism”: values appear to gradually shift with income, and middle class values lay between the ones of poorer and richer classes. If any, the only peculiarity of middle class values is moderation. We also find changes in values across countries to be of much larger magnitude than the ones dictated by income, education and individual characteristics, suggesting that individual values vary primarily within bounds dictated by each society.
Keywords: middle class, income, values, political orientations