The middle class has traditionally served as the backbone of a nation's economy. Their well-being has a direct bearing on wider social issues such as employment, consumption and taxation. A recent report by Britain's social mobility and child poverty commission, established by Prime Minister David Cameron, found that children from above average income families are now set to experience a worse standard of living than their parents when they grow up. This unprecedented development is the first of its kind to emerge since the early 20th century. The Commission has warned that government initiatives must now also target young people from the middle class to help them cope with their future.
So why is the middle class facing a decline in Britain? What is the situation with the middle class in the rest of the Western world?
Ni hao, you're listening to People In the Know, bringing you insights into the headlines in China and around the world, I'm Zheng Chenguang in Beijing.
We speak to Professor Lui Tai-lok, head of the Department of Sociology at the University of Hong Kong, and Professor Stephanie Hemelryk Donald, Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Professor of Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of New South Wales in Australia.