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Upper income level is a demographic variable assigned when a persons income level is in the top portion (usually 1.5 - 2 standard deviations above the mean) in the population under evaluation. Where income is related to class then this level would relate to upper middle class or upper class, athough this relationship is not always reliable.

If we take an American example. Sociologists Dennis Gilbert, Willam Thompson and Joseph Hickey estimate the upper middle class to constitute roughly 15% of the population. Using the 15% figure one may conclude that the American upper middle class consists, strictly in an income sense, of professionals with personal incomes in excess of $62,500, who commonly reside in households with six figure incomes.[1][2][3][4] The difference between personal and household income can be explained by considering that 76% of households with incomes exceeding $90,000 (the top 20%) had two or more income earners.[1]

Data Top third Top quarter Top quintile Top 15% Top 10% Top 5%
Household income[5]
Lower threshold (annual gross income) $65,000 $80,000 $91,705 $100,000 $118,200 $166,200
Exact Percentage of households 34.72% 25.60% 20.00% 17.80% 10.00% 5.00%
Personal income (age 25+)[6]
Lower threshold (annual gross income) $37,500 $47,500 $52,500 $62,500 $75,000 $100,000
Exact Percentage of individuals 33.55% 24.03% 19.74% 14.47% 10.29% 5.63%

SOURCE: US Census Bureau, 2006[6][5]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named US Census Bureau, income quintile and top 5% household income distribution and demographic characteristics, 2006
  2. US Census Bureau, distribution of personal income, 2006. URL accessed on 2006-12-09.
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Society in Focus
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named The American Class Structure
  5. 5.0 5.1 US Census Bureau, overall household income distribution, 2006. URL accessed on 2006-12-28.
  6. 6.0 6.1 US Census Bureau, personal income distribution, age 25+, 2006. URL accessed on 2006-12-28.
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