Majority of the households in Pakistan now belong to the middle class, a first in Pakistan's history, according to research by Dr. Jawaid Abdul Ghani of Karachi School of Business and Leadership (KSBL).
It's an important tipping point that puts Pakistan among the top 5 countries with fastest growing middle class population in Asia-Pacific region, according to an Asian Development Bank report titled Asia's Emerging Middle Class: Past, Present, And Future. The ADB report put Pakistan's middle class growth from 1990 to 2008 at 36.5%, much faster than India's 12.5% growth in the same period.
From 2002 to 2011, the country's middle class, defined as households with daily per capita expenditures of $2-$10 in 2005 purchasing power parity dollars, grew from 32% to 55% of the population, according to a paper presented by Dr. Abdul Ghani at Karachi's Institute Business Administration's International Conference on Marketing. Dr. Ghani has cited Pakistan Standards of Living Measurement (PSLM) Surveys as source of his data.
|Source: Dr. Abdul Ghani, Karachi School of Business|
Growing middle class is a major driver of economic growth, as the income elasticity for durable goods and services for middle class consumers is greater than one, according to a Brookings Institution study titled The Emerging Middle Class in Developing Countries.
Among some of the manifestations of the rising middle class, Dr. Abdul Ghani reports dramatic increase in the ownership of television sets, refrigerators and motorcycles in households in all income deciles in Pakistan. At the same the total household assets have nearly doubled from $387 billion in 2001-02 to $772.6 billion in 2010-11 in terms of 2005 purchasing power parity dollars.
Consumer spending in Pakistan has increased at a 26 percent average pace the past three years, compared with 7.7 percent for Asia, according to data compiled by Euromonitor International, a consumer research firm. Pakistan's rising middle class consumers in major cities like Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad are driving sales of international brand name products and services. Real estate developers and retailers are responding to it by opening new mega shopping malls such as Dolmen in Karachi and Centaurus in Islamabad.
Pakistan's transition to middle-class middle-income country over the last decade mainly during Musharraf years represents a major tipping point for the country's economy. It is likely to accelerate economic growth driven by consumption and draw greater investments in production of products and services demanded by middle class consumers. Some of it is already in evidence in booming sales of durable goods (TV sets, refrigerators, motorcycles) AND non-durables (cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, processed foods, etc) in Pakistan's booming FMCG sector.