Visit a developing country and what is the most important question to ask? How big is your middle class these days? Not surprisingly, there are few clear answers. We expect that a growing middle class indicates an interest in liberal (19th century version) values and the possibility of market-led growth and stability.
To be sure, current events in Europe do challenge this comfortable view.
This piece from the FT offers a nice summary of the challenges to measuring the size of any country's middle class in any year: Look at car ownership rates. The data in most places are pretty reliable, And the news is good. The world's middle class is about twice as big as we had thought.
And expect more "urban sprawl" (aka auto-oriented development).
H/T The Browser.