By Claire West
New research from uSwitch.com reveals that Kate Middleton isn't alone in her upward social mobility - over seven in ten Brits (71%) say they're middle class despite more than six in ten (61%) having working class roots.
* The only way is up: 71% of people say they are middle class but just 53% say the same of their parents and just 34% of their grandparents
* Solid roots: today only 23% of people claim to be working class despite 61% saying that their grandparents were working class
* While 15% say that who they married determines their class, the majority define themselves through their education (65%), behaviour and lifestyle choices (64%), upbringing (56%) and job (54%)
* The good life: nearly half of Brits (48%) think that class is directly linked to success in life
* Opportunity knocks: over half (54%) think the middle classes enjoy better opportunities while nearly a quarter (23%) say the middle classes will always achieve more
* Squeezed in the middle: over a third (36%) think the recession has hit the middle classes the hardest.
Upwardly mobile Kate Middleton isn't alone according to new research from uSwitch.com the independent price comparison and switching service. The majority of Brits now claim to be middle class, even though their parents and grand-parents were working class. Over seven in ten people (71%) say that they are middle class, but just 53% say the same of their parents and just 34% the same of their grandparents. Incredibly, 61% of people say that their grandparents were working class.
And as Kate Middleton will prove, when she becomes Princess Catherine, our class is no longer defined by our parents or our past. Less than a quarter of people today (23%) think that their class is determined by their parents' jobs, whereas over half (54%) think that their own job does define their class. Less than a third (32%) say that their parents' class or family money (29%) determines their own class. Instead, Brits choose to define themselves through their education (65%), behaviour and lifestyle choices (64%), upbringing (56%) and job (54%). Interestingly, 15% of Brits think that who they marry determines their class.
But while nearly three quarters of people (71%) say they're middle class, the perception they have of the middle classes is somewhat different to how they describe themselves. Less than a third of those who call themselves middle class are in a profession such as a lawyer or doctor (29%) even though almost three quarters of people (72%) list this as the number one factor to being middle class.
But this drive for upward mobility isn't so surprising as Brits see some clear benefits to being middle class. Almost half (48%) say that class is directly linked to success in life, while almost a quarter (23%) say that the middle classes will always achieve more. Interestingly, given that a middle class girl is about to become a Princess, 54% say that the middle classes enjoy better opportunities.
However, being middle class today is often more about aspiration than reality. As a result, the middle classes are vulnerable to the impact of the current economic situation. Over half (56%) have felt the impact of the recession. One in five (20%) have stretched themselves to maintain their standard of living, while a further third (35%) have gone without luxuries or downsized significantly. Over a third (36%) say the middle classes have been hit hardest by the downturn.
Ann Robinson, Director of Consumer Policy at uSwitch.com, says: "The Royal Wedding is hardly a case of the prince and the pauper, but it does serve to demonstrate how Brits no longer feel shackled by class. Three quarters of us now think we are middle class even if our parents and grandparents weren't. Instead of feeling defined by class Brits are now saying that the sky is the limit.
"But it seems that even the middle classes haven't avoided the grips of the financial crisis. In fact the economic fallout seems to be hitting this group the hardest. Lack of job security, pay rises that fail to keep up with inflation and the rocketing cost of living are taking their toll, chipping away at middle class aspirations, confidence and lifestyle.