Do you feel rich when you earn 4,264 TL a month?
The Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK) has released the results of its “Income and Living Conditions Survey 2015." According to this survey, in order to be in the top 10 percent of our country’s population, one needs to earn an average of 4,264 Turkish Liras monthly.
As of the end of 2015, our population was 78,741,053. Those who had a monthly average income of more than 4,000 liras totaled 7,874,100.
There is also the second 10 percent zone of people who are not the richest but among the top earners. When we look at this group, a monthly average income is 2,130 liras per person. The average income difference between the top 7.8 million and the second 7.8 million following them is one half of the first, have you noticed?
I am using the “Equivalent Household Disposable Income” figures of TÜİK. If these figures were not divided by 10 percent zones but by 1 percent zones, then the top 1 percent and the second 1 percent below it would have also shown a similar difference in income. The income injustice is at every level.
Let us take a look at the bottom, the least earning ones. Here again, 7.8 million citizens of ours constitute the lowest 10 percent and their average monthly income is only 321 liras. Yes, true, it is “three hundred and twenty one” in writing. The second from the bottom 10 percent is not too different; their monthly average income is 523 liras. If not two-fold, there is a significant difference between the lowest 7.8 million and the other 7.8 million right above it.
I don’t know how rich a person feels who has a monthly income of 4,264 liras but I have no doubt those who have a monthly income of 321 liras or 523 liras certainly feel extremely poor.
What I said for the rich segment is true for the poor segment also. If the slices are made up of 1 percent zones instead of 10 percent, we would see that the lowest 1 percent would not be even close to 321 liras.
Here, we live in a country where a little more than half of the population does not earn a net monthly income of 1,000 liras.
If you have been reading this piece up to now, most probably you are among the 15,748,000 people in the top 20 percent. I am sure you have future dreams for yourself, your children and for your country.
While you are having these dreams, please keep this thought in your mind: One of every two people you see on the street does not even make 1,000 liras a month.
The “Equivalent Household Disposable Median Income” per capita, which is different than the “average,” has also been calculated. This figure is 12,492 liras yearly; in other words, 1,041 liras monthly.
Who will we call poor and who will we call not poor? There are two methods. In one, we call those who do not earn even half of the average income, which is 1,376 liras monthly, poor. When calculated like this, 14.7 percent of our population, in other words 11,574,934 people, are “poor.”
However, there is another method which is used by the European Union to calculate poverty. According to that method, those who cannot earn 60 percent of this “median income,” in our case those who earn below 600 liras monthly, are poor. According to this definition, 21.9 percent of our population, in other words 17,244,290 people, are “poor.”
Even though there is a major recovery in the number of our poor compared to the past, the situation is still extremely grave. According to the EU definition, one in five people you see on the street is poor.
There is another grave situation: In terms of these poor citizens, their poverty is about to turn into destiny. For the past four years, the continuous cycle of poverty, for those who earned 60 percent under the median income, has increased 15.8 percent compared to the previous year.
This is a precise image where we can see how our stalled economy since 2007 has affected people individually and how it is destroying their future hopes.