From Paul Krugman, Money and Class:
"According to that Pew survey (pdf), in early 2008 only 6 percent of Americans considered themselves lower class — far below the official poverty rate! — only 2 percent upper class, and 1 percent didn’t know. So 91 percent of Americans — roughly speaking, people with incomes between $15,000 and $250,000 — considered themselves middle class. And a large portion of these people were wrong."
This reminded me of a post I did last year... Many People don't Realize they're Poor:
Wealth inequality in the U.S. is very real, but yet 9 out of 10 Americans would be shocked to learn just by how much. And not only don't they realize how much the top 0.01% rakes in, a great many don't even realize how poor they are either (having misperceptions about their own class status as well.)
On Sept. 10, 2013, a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that when people were asked about their economic circumstances, only 12 percent of people classified themselves as poor, with 28 percent putting themselves in the working class, 42 percent in the middle class, 16 percent in the upper middle class and 1 percent calling themselves well-to-do.
On Nov. 30, 2012, a USA Today/Gallup poll asked about social class found that 10 percent of people defined themselves as lower class, with 31 percent in the working class, 42 percent in the middle class, 13 percent in the upper middle class and 2 percent in the upper class.
And many rich people don’t really think they’re rich. In a survey, the vast majority of investors with $1 million in assets don’t consider themselves wealthy.
From a post I did in 2011, Are You Middle Class?
Rich People Still Don’t Realize They’re Rich - "People who are rich but not the richest — in the $250,000 zone, say — see they have more than lots of poor people, but also much less than a few very visibly rich people. Then they conclude they’re in the middle, so they must be middle class."
Why So Many Rich People Don’t Feel Very Rich - "Why don’t people at the 90th percentile of the income distribution feel particularly rich? Because many Americans who are richer than this cohort are so much richer."
Everyone Is ‘Middle Class,’ Right - "If you’re mostly exposed to people earning about as much as you, you’re likely to think your earnings are average. Misinformation about one’s socio-economic standing can also help explain why low-income voters in the United States support tax cuts for the rich."