Middle-Class Spenders Will Lead Global Growth

Wealthier overseas consumers spell opportunity for American vendors who can take advantage.

Here's one reason to be optimistic about the long-term potential of the global economy: the emergence of a global middle class. About 1.8 billion strong now, the global middle class will number close to 5 billion consumers by 2030, according to estimates from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Broadly defined as consumers with enough income for food, clothing and shelter basics plus discretionary purchases, this group will spend about $56 trillion a year come 2030, nearly three times as much as they shell out today. These consumers will insist on a higher standard of living, with meatier diets, bigger houses and better hygiene. And they'll clamor for a wide range of consumer goods -- from air conditioners and electronics to cosmetics and organic foods.

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Karen Mracek
Associate Editor, The Kiplinger Letter