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Can the planet handle more middle-class humans?

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Jason Lee/Reuters

(Read caption) Passersby reflect on a Car dealer’s window in central Beijing.

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Let's have a round of applause for an astounding milestone in individual achievement, family prosperity, and community improvement around the globe. In just a decade the world will, for the first time in history, change from being mostly poor to being mostly middle-class.

Think about it. The third planet from the sun – not the closest,which burns hottest, nor the farthest and coldest, but the one in the Goldilocks middle – will by definition be middle-class, at least for the species that thinks it is in charge.

In a special "Future Focus" report, Monitor correspondents focused on three countries that account for the lion’s share of the growth: China, India, and Brazil. Each is becoming more middle-class in its own way. In India, reporter Ben Arnoldy shows how it is a family affair. In Brazil, Julia Michaels examines the social network that helped one woman rise from poverty. In China, Peter Ford looks at the massive upward mobility engineered by Beijing’s capitalist/command economy.

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