Acton Institute Powerblog

What difference does reaching the middle class make?

Too often, advocating for economically sound policies is dismissed as extraneous to the life of a Christian. Faith leaders may see improving the lot of those living in this world as worthwhile but, fundamentally, outside the Christian’s mission. But if they understood the difference these policies make for “the least of these,” they may reconsider.

It may be a cliche to say that those in the West take for granted the kind of daily pleasures and amenities denied much of the world. Jon Miltimore details this distinction in an article posted on Acton’s Religion & Liberty Transatlantic website, writing:

Reaching the middle class is transformative as a life experience. There may be very few differences between being wealthy and being middle-class, but the quality of life between poverty and middle-class is stark. …

Anna Rosling Rönnlund, the founder of Gapminder’s Dollar Street project, said perhaps the most telling sign of people reaching the middle class is the presence of store-purchased hygienic items.

“The most striking thing is so many of the people we visited so far actually have a plastic toothbrush,” Rönnlund told the Post. “It’s the same with soap. Almost everyone in the world has access to some kind of soap. The poorest buy a tiny fraction of a soap bar or make it themselves. When you come to the middle, you see people buying locally produced, big bars of soap.”

Surging economic opportunity empowers the world’s poor to enjoy such simple items as toothbrushes and soap – everyday items that ward off innumerable diseases. Loving our neighbors means that we must seek the best for them, so it is imperative that Christians understand how economics allows the world to thrive, or wither.

There are a number of well-defined policies that lead a nation to prosperity. And data show that economic freedom benefits the global poor, even if they do not reach the middle class. Jon Militmore’s article helps clarify the life-altering difference these policies make.

You can read his full article here.

(Photo credit: Public domain.)

Rev. Ben Johnson

Rev. Ben Johnson is Executive Editor of the Acton Institute's flagship journal Religion & Liberty and edits its transatlantic website.