Are our people happy or unhappy?

Are our people happy or unhappy?

According to the “2012 Life Satisfaction Statistics” the results of which were released the other day by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), 61 percent of the Turkish population is “very happy” and 29 percent is “happy.” Only 10 percent is “unhappy.” Some 76 percent of our people are hopeful for their future.

(For information: Happiness is a feeling. It is formed as a result of self-evaluation of whether all the incidents – either beyond or under our control – opportunities, and gains throughout a person’s life are considered adequate. Hope is about expectations related to spiritual and material gains, which may be obtained as a result of developments beyond or under control throughout a person’s life.)

The survey results are interesting. As you can imagine, the target of governments and politicians who have been elected by people’s votes is to make people happy in one way or another.

That means that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has achieved this. In general, it is believed that “source of happiness” is money. A person without money cannot be happy.

I wonder if it is because the Turkish people’s pockets are full of money that they are happy and hopeful.

Money not important

* According to state figures, national income per capita has increased 43.7 percent in 10 years.

* In the distribution of national income, the share of the poorest 20 percent is 5.8 percent, while the share of the richest 20 percent is 46.7 percent.

* In TÜİK’s 2011 “Income and Life Conditions” report, 16.1 in every 100 people are living in poverty in Turkey. We therefore have 11,670,000 people living in poverty.

* In 2011, the average annual household income in Turkey was 10,774 liras. The average monthly income was 898 liras.

* According to the 2011 “Family Structure” report, commissioned by the Family and Social Policies Ministry, 72.3 percent of families make ends meet with a monthly income of lower than 1,200 liras, while 21.1 percent have an income of between 1,201 and 2,500 liras. The proportion of families with incomes over 2,500 liras is 6.6 percent.

This means that there has not been a significant rise in the amount of money flowing into our people’s pockets. The income distribution has not improved. Well, then what is the source of our happiness?

Health and love are important

According to the survey, 70.8 percent say “health” is the most important factor for their happiness, 13.8 percent say “love,” 6.7 percent say “success,” 5.1 percent say “money,” and 3.1 percent say “job opportunities.”

As you can see, the health of our people is ok. Who could ask for more? Business and money are not important. A bit of love seems to be enough.

That means that the AKP government sees and knows this fact. That’s why it prioritizes health services. Let’s be realistic. The health system in Turkey has been socialized in a way unprecedented in any Western country. Every citizen enjoys health services equally and almost free. Prime Minister Erdoğan has achieved what President Obama couldn’t in the United States. A significant portion of the budget is allocated to health services. The result is obvious. People are happy. Prime Minister Erdoğan is popular. The AKP gets the vote.

Let me finish the piece with a verse from the poet Fahri Işık: “If the fire of love does not fill a body / if the road of love does not reach a destination / Would life be worth living if there was no hope / Hope is the bread of the poor… eat it Mehmet, eat it…”

Güngör Uras is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on Feb. 28. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.