Upper Middle Class: A Separate Entity from the Middle Class?

In your opinion, what differentiates the upper-middle-class from the middle-class? Are they really different? If so, what makes the upper middle class a separate entity?

Usually how much education they have, and how much prestige their careers have as well as how few people are trained to do it. Upper middle class usually have graduate degrees and prestigious careers paying 60k+ a year. Middle class have associate or bachelor degrees and jobs paying in the 35-50k range.

Income helps separate them, but I don’t know to what degree. Plus with income the COL varies so drastically from city to city.

I’d say so. The difference between middle class and upper middle class might not have a lot of difference as far as gross wages but the disposable income is much higher. That means international vacations instead of road trips to the lake, individual bedrooms/cars for the kids, and just nicer things all together.

An arbitrary line.

Stratification exists.

“Entity” poor choice of words, ‘class’ was just fine.

From Class: A Guide Through the American Status System (originally published 1983), by Paul Fussell:

I believe there’s a distinction.
In my minds eye:
middle class
upper middle class

This is Michael Lind’s description of the American “white overclass,” which includes the upper-middle and all above it. From The Next American Nation:

I agree. Unfortunately, it’s one of my favourite words lately.

The middle class think a career that pays $60k a year is “prestigious”. The upper middle class know how much a career that pays $160k a year really isn’t in the grand scheme of things.

In Britain and Europe we tend not to divide the middle class up into separate classes. Traditionally, we saw the world through a three class system consisting of the Upper Class, Middle Class and Working Class. While money played a role it was far from the major determining factor of which category you were in (born into). The poor and the destitute were lumped into the working-class, just as the educated professionals, wealthy entrepreneurs and humble office clerk were deemed middle-class. However, in my opinion I’d say over the last 40-50 years this system of stratification has changed to some degree. Since the disappearance of manufacturing it seems many of the former blue-collar, semi-skilled factory workers had been replaced by uniformed and white collar service employees, many of whom are on minimum wage. In times past, the urge would have been to group these people in the middle-class just for the simple reason most do not perform manual labour. Today, however, this element is almost uniformly lumped into the working-class. The poor and the destitute no longer seem to be referred to as working-class. Often, they are politely referred to as a Benefits Class, thus, a new category has been created. This leads me to my next point and that is the middle-class in Britain and Europe seems to have been sub-divided. Quite often I am now running into the terms ‘upper-middle-class’ and ‘lower-middle-class’, which previously I think were largely seen as American constructs. This makes me wonder if this highly educated and often affluent professional/managerial class, a.k.a. upper-middle-class, has become part of the lexicon as a result of the increase of disparity in wealth and income in most Western capitalist societies?

Wow. If “The Middle” depicts a middle class family, then I don’t know what lower class is. Do you have to live in a cardboard box to be out of middle class range?

Upper-middle-class, if they have to stop working, can survive 5-10 years easily. Middle class in the same circumstances - one year to a few years. Upper class - indefinitely.

By that definition, no young person can be upper middle class regardless of income. I don’t know any one in their 20’s who would be able to live 5 years off their savings/assets alone. I’m not sure there are any in their 30’s who can either.

From income alone - no. So?

I would say that the ability to live off of savings for X period of time is not a requirement for either the middle class or upper-middle class. Plenty of upper middle-class people would go broke extremely quickly if they stopped working for whatever reason because they carry large mortgages and have high expenses in general. That applies to doctors and other professional way more often than not yet they are considered upper-middle class.

To me, upper-middle class implies a high-income and a certain lifestyle but it says nothing about overall assets or true wealth. By some definitions, wealth (outside of retirement savings) and the ability to choose whether to work or not is only a requirement to be in the upper-class. Upper-middle class people may be able to choose to allow one spouse to stay home but they will still take a lifestyle hit for that choice.

If you have to work for a living, you are middle class no matter what your income level. A doctor or lawyer or manager or sales director who makes $500,000 a year is upper middle class because if they stopped working they’d have to drastically cut back their budget. To be truly upper class you can’t have earned your own money, you have to inherit it.

Upper-middle class is a designation most often used for those who must work for a paycheque, but who work in a “profession” that is accorded more social respect (and typically but not always higher pay) than the average working professional.

Typical examples are doctors and lawyers.

That it is not strictly tied to pay is demonstrated by the fact that university professors are generally accorded upper-middle class status (if they have tenure). In their case, they have the status because it is very difficult to become a tenured university professor and such have reasonably high social status.

Upper middle class status is not necessarily linked with wealth accumulation, and in fact, it is relatively common for people in this category to have their spending outstrip their income.

On the other hand, people who own businesses can be ‘upper-middle class’ if the business is wealthy enough, and they can accumulate the trappings of wealth commonly associated with upper-middle-classdom - for example, a nice detached house (if living in a major city), and the ability to hire personal servants if necessary (typically, a nanny for the kids, or a nurse/assistant for elders living at home).

Bull. Plenty of upper class people who have earned their own money. Including fabulously wealthy ones.

Young upper-class people have trust funds.

But that raises an important point: Plenty of self-made rich people have not joined the upper class and never will no matter how much money they have. It’s a function of whom you might conceivably marry, among other things. Not even Bill Gates, I think, is part of the upper class really. Their children or grandchildren might join the upper class – but, they have to be properly acculturated to qualify, and being the right color is all but indispensable; there is not really any nonwhite upper class in America. Yet.