Asia’s booming middle classes unmasked in new study

NEW DELHI, August 19, 2010 (AFP) – They are every marketeer’s dream and the future of the world economy — now Asia’s aspirational middle classes have been laid bare in a major new study focusing on their astonishing growth. The Asian Development Bank forecast in the research released Thursday that over the next two decades another 800 million people will make the transition from poverty to the middle classes, assuming economic development continues.

Their elevation “may present many challenges, but it will also open up new and unprecedented opportunities for the region and for the world,” the ADB concluded.

The study, “The Rise of Asia’s Middle Class”, also sought to shed light on the characteristics of this burgeoning cross-section of society, concluding that they share many traits with their counterparts in the wealthy West.

The Asian middle classes are likely to be educated, live in urban areas and have fewer children and more progressive values. They are prone to over-eating and under-exercising, and are keen buyers of cars and household electronics.

Not surprisingly, the two countries with the biggest populations, China and India, are set to see the biggest increase in middle-class Asians, with