DEFINITION of 'Upper Class'

A socioeconomic term used to describe individuals who reside above both the working class and middle class of a social hierarchy. Individuals in the upper class have higher levels of disposable income, greater say in the political realm and exert more control over the use of natural resources. While the upper class makes up a small percentage of the overall population, it controls a disproportionately large amount of the overall wealth.

BREAKING DOWN 'Upper Class'

From a historical perspective, the upper class was dominated by land-owning nobility and aristocrats. Over the years the term has expanded to include celebrities, politicians, investors and other wealthy people.


While those in the upper class ("the rich") do exert significant control over economic and political developments, most production activities and consumption is done by the working and middle classes.

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