ACs in Asia

Middle-income population at risk in 2022

Chilling Prospects 2022

Chapter 1.5

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In high-impact countries, the middle-income population declined substantially, by approximately 75.7 million from 1.38 billion in 2021 to 1.3 billion in the 2022 analysis.

Figure 1.14: Middle-income population by country at risk due to a lack of access to sustainable cooling 

In high-impact countries, approximately 1.3 billion people typically own an air conditioner and a refrigerator and may be able to afford more efficient ones. They may also be able to move to better designed, more efficient housing and working environments, where they might also make conscious choices not to own an air-conditioning unit or minimize its use. 

The middle-income segment of the population lives on between USD 10.01 and USD 20 per day. In high-impact countries, the middle-income population declined dramatically, by approximately 75.7 million, from 1.38 billion last year to 1.3 billion in the 2022 analysis. This follows a 79-million-person reduction from 2020, when the middle-income population stood at 1.46 billion globally. The number of people living on less than USD 20 per day in high-impact countries has seen an increasing trend in the last two decades. In 2022, this growth was offset by a sharper increase in the rural and urban poor as well as in lower-middle-income populations that was induced by the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

China continues to represent the highest middle-income population globally, with 693.3 million, or approximately 53 percent of the global total. The top five countries by absolute numbers, also including India, Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam, represent approximately 81 percent of the global middle-income population. In both China and India, significant decreases in this population were observed, by almost 19 million in China and 45.2 million in India compared to last year, as the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant shift towards the lower-middle-income segment, reversing a previously converging trend between the two risk groups. Notable proportional increases occurred in Benin (68.3 percent) and Uganda (54.4 percent), though in these countries the middle-income population experienced significant reductions of 51 percent and 30 percent, respectively, between 2020 and 2021.

India, China and Brazil represented the top three countries in absolute numbers, although all top 10 countries saw a decrease in their middle-income population compared to last year.  Overall, five countries saw a decrease in their middle-income population of 10 percent or more: Bangladesh, Djibouti, India, Myanmar and Pakistan. 

Table 1.5: Top 10 countries with middle-income population at risk (2020–22, thousand)

Regionally, most of the middle-income population at risk are in high-impact countries in Asia and the Middle East. 

Figure 1.15: Regional breakdown of middle-income population (2018–2022 analysis)

The 31 high-impact countries in Africa are home to a middle-income population of 75.4 million people, or approximately 6 percent of the global total. This represents an increase of 7.1 million compared to last year, where Africa represented 4 percent of the total middle-income population. At 75.4 million, the middle-income population is now almost equivalent to pre-pandemic levels. Egypt and Uganda saw the largest increases in absolute terms, adding 2.3 million and 1.3 million to their respective middle-income populations compared to last year. 

In Asia and the Middle East, the 16 high-impact countries for access to cooling account for 87 percent of the global middle-income population, though in absolute terms the population in the region declined by 79.3 million between last year and the 2022 analysis, from 1.21 billion to 1.13 billion. In addition to decreases in China and India, Pakistan’s middle-income population decreased by 4.6 million people, a decline of 25 percent compared to 2021 and the highest proportional decrease in the region. Myanmar also experienced a 10 percent reduction in its middle-income population, from 5.4 million last year to 4.9 million in 2022. In Bangladesh, the middle-income population increased, but since 2020 the trend has reversed with lower-income groups accounting for most of the population at risk.  

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the middle-income population decreased by 3.5 million, from 98.4 million last year to 94.9 million in 2022. This includes a 2.7-million-person reduction in Brazil and reductions of 500,000 and 155,000 people in Argentina and Peru respectively.