The Emerging Middle Class in Pakistan: How it Consumes, Earns, and Saves
Dr. Jawaid Abdul Ghani
Professor, Strategy and Marketing Research,
Karachi School of Business and Leadership
jawaid.ghani@gmail.com

During the first decade of the twenty first century, and for the first time in the history of
Pakistan, over half of the households in the country belonged to the middle class (M-class).
During this period (2002-2011) the M-class, defined as households with daily per capita
expenditures of $2-$10 in 2005 purchasing power parity dollars1
, grew from 32 percent to 55
percent of all households in the country, and the number of people in this class doubled from 38
million to 84 million. Real aggregate national consumption increased by about $60 billion, of
which $55 billion was accounted for by the increase in consumption of the M-class. As a result
90 percent of the increase in national consumption during this decade came from the increase in
consumption of the M-class2
. It is not surprising that the Asian Development Bank listed
Pakistan as among the top five countries3
in the Asia Pacific region with the fastest growing Mclass
during 1990-2008 (Chun 2010).
What characterizes the M-class? Bannerjee and Duflo (2008) suggest that holding a relatively
secure job is the single most important characteristic of the M-class. Individuals with higher
levels of “permanent income” are less vulnerable to economic shocks, have lower discount rates
for future rewards and thus invest more in health, education, and other “rent generating”
credentials. Professionals and others in the “service class” with large amounts of human capital
and stable employment relationships are considered the most likely to invest in securing their
own and children‟s future. Indeed, according to Sorenson (2000) it is the level of uncertainty in
“lifetime wealth” and resulting living conditions which result in differences among social
classes4
. M-class values are described as optimism and confidence regarding the future, a
preference for moderation and stability, a willingness to pay a little extra for quality, the “ability
to defer gratification”, and income often based on specialized skills. As a result the M-class has
the “base amount of income to invest in productive activities that contribute to economy-wide 
welfare” (Chun 2010), and is more likely to accumulate human capital and savings, and more 
inclined towards entrepreneurship (Lopez 2012, Meyer 2012). 

http://iba.edu.pk/testibaicm2014/parallel_sessions/ConsumerBehavior... 

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