Income inequality is highest in Turkey compared to Europe

Prepared by the Public Services Employees Union (Genel-İş), a recent report has shown that seven out of every 10 people are in debt in Turkey. The poverty risk is higher among women than men and one out of every two children faces poverty risk.

Affiliated with the Confederation of Progressive Trade Union of Turkey (DİSK), the Public Services Employees Union (Genel-İş) has released its report “Income Inequality and Poverty in COVID-19 Period.”

Underlining that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has pushed over 100 million people into poverty across the world, the report has noted that “the social and economic destruction caused by the outbreak has negatively affected the living and working conditions of people and led to deeper income inequality and poverty.”

Sharing information about the other countries, the union has indicated that income inequality and poverty have increased in Turkey as well.

Turkey among countries with highest inequality

The report has noted that “Turkey is one of the countries with the highest income inequality when compared to the European countries.”

Reminding its audience that the inequality in income distribution is calculated with Gini coefficient, the report has noted that the closer this number is to zero, the more equal income distribution in a country is and vice versa.

“While the average Gini coefficient is 0.307 among the European Union (EU) member countries, this coefficient is 0.417 in Turkey, according to the Eurostat data,” the report has underlined.

The European countries with the fairest income distribution is reportedly Hungary, France and Germany.

Inequality has increased to 8.3 times

“When compared with the European countries, Turkey is the country with the widest gap between the income of the most affluent 20 percent and the poorest 20 percent of the population,” the report has said.

Referring to the Eurostat data, it has noted that the most affluent people of Turkey earned 8.3 times more than the poorest people in 2019. This gap is reportedly five times in EU averages.

People got poorer by 1,500 dollars in a year

Sharing details about the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita as well, the report has shown that the GDP per capita has decreased by 1,434 US dollars in Turkey over the past year. While the GDP per capita was 9,150 USD in 2019, this amount dropped to 7,715 USD in 2020, which marked one of the lowest GDP per capita among the EU countries.

Number of poor increased by 8.4 percent in 2 years

“The number of poor people has increased by 8.4 percent in Turkey in the last two years. While the number of the poor was 15 million 864 people in 2017, this number increased by 1 million 343  in 2019 and reached 17 million 207 thousand people. As for the poverty rate, it hit 21.3 percent.”

Specifically focusing on working poverty as well, the report has noted that the average poverty rate is 10 percent in the world while the working poverty rate is 9 percent. As for Turkey, the report has summarized it as follows:

“While there were 3 million 493 working poor in Turkey in 2017, this number increased by half a million in 2019 and reached 3 million 999 thousand people. The rate of the working poor hit 14.4 percent in 2019.

“Taken together with the 3 million 737 thousand 831 people condemned to get short-time working allowance and unpaid leave allowance, we can say that this number is more than 7.7 million people.”

Seven out of every 10 people are in debt

Other highlights from the report are as follows:

“Income inequality and poverty have made 71 percent of Turkey’s population get into debt. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), only 28.9 percent of the 83 million 15d thousand 997 people are not in debt, while 71.1 percent of the population, or 59 million 123 thousand 203 people, are in debt. Housing and housing expenses are not included in this count.

‘Poverty risk is higher in Turkey than other countries’

“The poverty risk in Turkey is two times higher than the EU average. While the EU has an average of 21.4 percent poverty risk, it is 39.8 percent in Turkey. The highness of the poverty risk also indicates that the poverty rate will increase further if necessary measures are not taken on time.

‘Women have a higher risk of poverty than men’

“When the poverty risk is considered by gender, it is seen that women have a higher risk of poverty than men in all countries, which is, without a doubt, directly related to the women’s employment.

“The low rate of employment among women also increases their risk of poverty. While women’s and men’s poverty risk is 22.3 percent and 20.4 percent in EU averages, this rate is 41 percent for women and 38.6 percent for men in Turkey, respectively.