Proje: MALTA LINK 2006 Poverty,Employment and Social Probems in Euro-Med Region seminar.

MALTA LINK 2006 Poverty,Employment and Social Probems in Euro-Med Region Seminar

POVERTY AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN TURKEY

Mustafa Cekic

STKED (Association of Civil Society and Development Institute)

15 September 2006

Poverty is a persisting problem of the world, and its conceptualization and measuring remains problematic as the concept is multidimensional and political. It is a known fact that economic development does not necessarily eliminate poverty, while countries with different development levels and welfare state policies experience different levels of poverty. Hence, poverty has become a major problem for both the developed and the developing countries, and for Turkey in particular it has gained importance since 1990.

In Turkey we can consider poverty in 3 different areas, where the poverty rate increases as you go from west to east part of Turkey. If taken by household, the average poverty rate reached above 20 percent.

One of the major problems driving poverty and social problems is the income differences. And income differences between social classes are deepening and becoming one of Turkey’s major problems too. Turkey’s richest families have upwards of 10.500 YTL in monthly income—approximately $6,360—while the poorest families try to survive on $150.

Turkey ranked fifth on the list of countries with the worst income distribution. The average weekly food expenses for a four-member family are approximately 70-80 YTL ($46-53) for a well-balanced diet. On the other hand almost half, or 48 percent, of Turkey’s population belongs to low-income category (200-350 USD/month) while their share of the national income is only 32.5 percent. Also when we consider different regions we face that there is a huge gap between the income levels of the west-coastal and east-inland regions. p>

To have a better understanding of the situation, next we can consider some examples. Turkey ranks seventh worldwide in farm output. But people working in the agriculture sector, whose population has declined in big numbers, experienced 39.9 percent poverty despite a 15 percent drop in the number of poor people in this category. Still, the rate of poverty in this group registered an increase of 3.5 percent. This indicates that the better-off people in this sector are moving into other areas of the economy, leaving behind the poorer sections that are less mobile. Another research shows that poverty amongst the unemployed population is around 47 percent. Where the official unemployment rate stood at 10.5 percent in 2003, now the rate is below 10 %, and seems to be improving in time.

In addition to these women’s participation in the labor force in Turkey was used to be very low and consequently dependency by women on male income earners and the family is very high, all of which render women a specific risk group in many social issues related to poverty. Today this problem seems to be less ……… since more women start to participate in the labor force.

Lack of access to education and lack of infrastructure are two important key reasons that cause pover

As mentioned before a severe fact is; poverty rate is around 20% and around 24% of the population are living on less than $4.30 per day. The most vulnerable in the country were the hardest hit. The children make up 28 percent of the population. The number of poor children under 15 has increased by 8.3 percent, and 32 percent of children now live in poverty. The figure in Appendix B shows that children have the highest poverty rate of any other age group in Turkey. Also we can see from the map that more than %35 percent of children are under weight. (Appendix B)

ty and affect children. Most of the children in poverty have difficulty to have access to education and the level of low education makes it more difficult for them to handle with poverty. In 2003 Turkey’s overall literacy rate was 86.5 percent, but the rate was only 78.7 percent for females, this makes the problem of poverty more serious. However, in the last years there seems to be an improvement in this problem but this problem still …… importance. Although rural and urban regions shared the number of poor people almost evenly, the rural regions are affected more than the urban ones due to their lower share of the total population. As we can see from the table (Appendix A) in urban areas poverty rate is around 20 % and more than 35 % in rural areas.

The economical and social conditions were very bad after 2001 when the country suffered the most severe economic crisis which had known in its modern history. But from that moment to know, especially in last two years Turkey’s latest economic indicators have shown that its economy is getting more stable. The economic policy of the government and the high development rate help to improve the economy and in parallel there is a slight improvement in poverty therefore in social problems. In Appendix C you can see some improvements recorded and the decreased poverty And for the future and present case in Turkey we are hopeful, and there are high expectations and development for future. From 2001 yearly 10 % of economical growth is observed in economy. And the inflation rate is decresed from levels of 60% to single digits. Membership negotiations were opened with Turkey, which has been an associate member of the EU since 1963 and an official candidate since 1999. There is a big amount of direct foreign investments and they are expected to be 10 billion USD yearly until 2010. Annual export amount of Turkey is 100 billion dollars and expected a noticeable increase. Well organized regional development and governance plans tend to decrease the unequal income distribution. Government investment incentive system is another factor that helps to handle with poverty and social problems. Investment incentive system has been applied to 49 regions of Turkey that seems to be less developed. And this also influenced economy and poverty in a positive way. Also EU and World Bank funds are other positive indicators.

In conclusion we must know that poverty and social inequality is a persisting problem of the world, while all countries experience different level of poverty and social inequality. To eliminate poverty and social inequality everyone has to obtain a better understanding of it and the nature of its effects, the role of government must be set correctly, who has the most important duty. Economical development, quality and rate of education are also very important factors that are related to poverty and social inequality. As a result it must be known that poverty and social inequality are problems that can be solvable in long term and we have to raise public awareness of poverty and re-orientate attitudes to establish poverty elimination as an issue of social responsibility rather than an object of charity.

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