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The Middle Class

The middle class is large and sets the tone for the nation. America is a middle class country; the poor are left behind and the rich are tolerated for their eccentricities. The middle class ideal is portrayed frequently on television. The family, white or black, is clean and prosperous, living in a spotlessly clean house with two or three children and two cars, possibly a family pet. One or both spouses will be a professional or will work for a corporation. The more prosperous members of the middle class might have a vacation home, many televisions and electronic gadgets, motor boats or even airplanes. Members of the lower middle class would live in simpler homes in working class neighborhoods, but the homes are kept clean and paid for.

Families Are Changing. Of course, these are stereotypes. Since more than half of American marriages end in divorce, single parent homes are now easy to find. People often live together without being married. Divorced people also remarry and mix children of previous marriages to form rather large households. All these living arrangements are becoming acceptable to the vast American middle class.

The Role of Women. In days past middle class wives rarely worked outside of the house. Now these women are likely to be employed or work as professionals at the same (or nearly the same) levels of pay and prestige as their husbands. The phrase “glass ceiling” refers to the battle working women have had to fight to be paid as well as men for the same work, and to have equal opportunities for advancement on the job. The earnings gap between the genders is closing, however. The economic reality is that most families at all levels of the middle class need two incomes to keep living the lifestyle they are accustomed to.

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