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Why the Middle Class is Better Off Than You Think

“A lot of people think the middle class is dead, dying, hollowed out,” says Russ Roberts, an economist at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and host of the podcast Econtalk. “And that’s a view that’s held now increasingly by not just the left…but by conservatives, Republicans, [and] economists across the spectrum.”

But is it true? Roberts says that many of the leading studies that support this claim offer “a misreading of the data, or at least an incomplete reading of the data, [ignoring] a much fuller story of opportunity and progress.”

In this video, Roberts offers some examples of the assumptions that economic researchers have made, leading them to offer an incomplete picture of American prosperity. He argues that the middle class has fared much better since the 1970s than most people think.

Produced by John Osterhoudt. Camera by Todd Krainin.

Photo credit: Sen. Sanders—Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/Newscom

Photo credit: Skyline Drawing—ID 46457018 © Vladimir Yudin |

Photo credit: Farm House—ID 137745545 © iigraphics |

Photo credit: Suburban Aerial Photo—ID 82905318 © Bryan Roschetzky |

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About The Author

John Osterhoudt

Founded in 1968, Reason is the magazine of free minds and free markets. We produce hard-hitting independent journalism on civil liberties, politics, technology, culture, policy, and commerce. Reason exists outside of the left/right echo chamber. Our goal is to deliver fresh, unbiased information and insights to our readers, viewers, and listeners every day. Visit

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