Pew Research calculator to determine your location-controlled social class

This calculator offered by the Pew Research Center factors in your location to determine which social class you belong in:

On how the calculator considers location:

The calculator takes your household income and adjusts it for the size of your household. The income is revised upward for households that are below average in size and downward for those of above average size. This way, each household’s income is made equivalent to the income of a three-person household (the whole number nearest to the average size of a U.S. household, which was 2.5 in 2018)…

Your size-adjusted household income and the cost of living in your area are the factors we use to determine your income tier. Middle-income households – those with an income that is two-thirds to double the U.S. median household income – had incomes ranging from about $48,500 to $145,500 in 2018. Lower-income households had incomes less than $48,500 and upper-income households had incomes greater than $145,500 (all figures computed for three-person households, adjusted for the cost of living in a metropolitan area, and expressed in 2018 dollars).

The following example illustrates how cost-of-living adjustment for a given area was calculated: Jackson, Tennessee, is a relatively inexpensive area, with a price level in 2018 that was 19.0% less than the national average. The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward metropolitan area in California is one of the most expensive areas, with a price level that was 31.6% higher than the national average. Thus, to step over the national middle-class threshold of $48,500, a household in Jackson needs an income of only about $39,300, or 19.0% less than the national standard. But a household in the San Francisco area needs a reported income of about $63,800, or 31.6% more than the U.S. norm, to join the middle class.

Key here is the idea that incomes go further in some places and have less purchasing power elsewhere. By itself, income may not be that great of a measure for determining social class. Including location helps get at local variations in class.

Of course, there are other factors that go into assessing social class. This includes education, wealth, social networks, and more.

(Note: this calculator is based on 2018 data so there could be some important changes here in 2023.)

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