Explain this, Mr. Erdogan: income of Turkey's richest 7.7 times that of poorest

Published September 22nd, 2014 - 07:06 GMT
According to the survey, 15 percent of the Turkish population lived under the poverty line in 2013, while 13 percent was considered “continuously poor.”
According to the survey, 15 percent of the Turkish population lived under the poverty line in 2013, while 13 percent was considered “continuously poor.”

The income of the richest 20 percent of people in Turkey was 7.7 times more than the income of the poorest 20 percent in 2013, according to the 2013 Income and Living Conditions Survey released by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) on Monday.

Wages and salaries constituted 48.3 percent of total income in Turkey among all groups. Social transfers, the majority of which stemmed from retiree pensions and survivor benefits, constituted 19.7 percent. Another 19.6 percent of total income came from entrepreneurial income.

According to the survey, 15 percent of the Turkish population lived under the poverty line in 2013, while 13 percent was considered “continuously poor,” a distinction given to those who were considered under the poverty line for 2013 and two of the last three years. This marked a decline from 2012 when 16 percent of the population was found to have been “continuously poor.”

Of people living in Turkey, 39.7 percent reported having structural problems in their homes, such as leaky roofs, damp walls or rotting window frames and floors. Forty-two percent reported having problems heating their homes. The amount of households making payments on installment plans and other debts not including mortgages amounted to 65.4 percent.

Of the total population, 78.5 percent reported not being able to take a one-week vacation away from home due to financial constraints. Forty-nine percent were recorded as not being able to pay for unexpected expenses, while 75.5 percent were unable to replace old and worn out furniture due to their financial situation.

The severe material deprivation rate was 49.7 percent last year, a sharp decline from the figure of 59.2 percent recorded in 2012. The severe material deprivation rate is calculated based on the inability to meet four of nine standards. These included paying one's rent or mortgage, being able to heat one's home, being able to eat meat regularly, owning a car, owning a washing machine and meeting unexpected expenses.

Figures were not specified regarding the material deprivation rate, which refers to the inability to meet three out of the nine standards.

Although continuous poverty and severe material deprivation rates fell last year in comparison with 2012, the income difference between the richest and poorest 20 percent of the country shows that significant income distribution inequality continues to be problem for the middle-income country, which has grown sharply over the past decade, tripling its GDP between 2001 and 2007.

Turkey still faces a major geographically based income disparity problem, as the province of İstanbul and other western regions are significantly more prosperous than the southeastern and eastern regions, which are considerably less developed and have much higher poverty rates.

“Unfortunately we are moving away from being a social state. The government's understanding of a social state is limited to social assistance programs,” opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu told Today's Zaman over the phone on Monday.

Critics of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government have argued that its social assistance programs -- which include the distribution of food, coal and appliances -- only perpetuate dependence without solving the fundamental problems behind poverty and social inequality.


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