Luxury and poverty hand-in-hand in Turkey

Luxury and poverty hand-in-hand in Turkey

According to the newly-released income and living conditions survey of the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK), the rich have become richer while the poor have become poorer.  

Turkey’s richest 20 percent have a share of 46.5 percent of the national income, up from 45.9 percent last year. The share of the poorest 20 percent has fallen from 6.2 percent to 6.1 percent.  

In the current situation, 6.6 million people in Turkey are living under the absolute poverty line. Their monthly incomes are less than 416 Turkish Liras. If you add to this figure the poor segment who earn less than 520 liras a month and the relatively poor who earn less than 624 liras per month, we understand that a total of 16.7 million people in Turkey are fighting poverty. 

This 16.7 million makes one-fifth of the country. 

According to Deloitte’s “The Rise of Luxury in Turkey” report published in 2015, the luxury market in Turkey between 2010 and 2014 expanded at an average of 10 percent every year to reach 5.3 billion liras. In 2018, this figure is expected to reach 7 billion liras. 

According to Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK) data, the number of people who hold a bank account worth over 1 million liras has increased 22 percent in the last 10 years to reach 77,210 people in 2014. 

In other words, at one extreme there are 6.6 million people trying to live on less than 416 liras a month and at the other extreme there are 77,000 people who have more than 1 million liras in the bank. 

On one hand there are millions who are not able to meet their basic needs; on the other hand, there are thousands who want to show their status with automobiles, shoes and bags, and who spend a lot on luxury personal care products brands. 

We have to realize that the total of more than 5 billion liras spent every year on clothes, jewelry, luxury cars and yachts does not contribute to sustainable development, social justice, education or scientific advancements and that it does not have any meaningful return to humanity. 

How does it make you feel to live in a country where 67.9 percent of the population is in debt, where the roofs of 39 percent of the families leak, where 43 percent cannot have heating at home, where 35.8 percent cannot access protein sources needed for health and where 71.4 percent do not have the means to take a week-long vacation?  

In Turkey, 4.6 million children’s very basic needs such as nutrition, heating and clothing are not met. Out of four children, one child is poor.  

There is also a gap between the situation of the children in the west of the country and the situation of the children in the east. In the eastern Black Sea and Northeastern Anatolia regions, one in every three children is poor. Almost half of the children living in Southeast Anatolia, which corresponds to 1.2 million children, cannot meet their nutrition, heating and clothing needs. This is based on data from 2013. Who knows where these figures have gone with the recent war environment? 

According to TÜİK’s last survey, as the number of children in a family increases, poverty also increases. While 3.3 percent of childless families are poor, 34.9 percent of those families who have more than three children are poor. It is easy to say “at least three children;” well, what happens after that?  

Child poverty, at the same time, may also mean children dropping out of school, child labor, children pushed into crime and their exposure to abuse. 

When that tomorrow comes, when those children suffering under poverty fall into the hands of communities or terror organizations, we should not be surprised and ask, “Where did we make a mistake?” Instead, we should be thinking now about how to fix this injustice.