Data: Poverty an issue for smaller portion of Turks in 2010

March 16, 2012, Friday/ 16:51:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Continuing on a downward trend from the early 2000s, poverty remained a problem for a smaller percentage of Turkey’s population in 2010 compared to a year earlier, data from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) showed on Friday.

According to the official statistics bureau’s calculations with regard to the purchasing power of money, those with a daily expenditure of less than $2.15 represented 0.21 percent of the entire Turkish population two years ago, down from 0.22 percent in 2009. The proportion of those spending equal to or less than twice as much to the national population dropped more -- from 4.35 percent in 2009 to 3.66 percent in 2010.

The figures were in line with the country’s economic growth. Turkish gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by nearly 5 percent in 2009 because of the global financial crisis that first broke out in the US a year earlier with the collapse of the gigantic financial services firm Lehman Brothers. Showing a quick recovery from this immediate impact of the turmoil, however, the national economy expanded by some 9 percent in 2010. Poverty is expected to have continued declining last year as well given the fact that the Turkish GDP growth was at 9.6 percent for the first three quarters of the year. In theory, while GDP expansion is important in eradicating poverty within a country’s borders, it is not enough. What should accompany economic growth for an effective fight against poverty is a sense of equal distribution of extra national wealth acquired as well as ad-hoc programs developed to teach the needy “how to fish.” Despite its strong economic growth and speedy reduction of joblessness for its young population in 2010, there was only a slight improvement in income inequality throughout the country, according to TurkStat’s “Income and Living Conditions Research, 2010” announced December last year. The research demonstrated that the wealthiest quintile -- 20 percent -- of the Turkish population earned eight times more income than the poorest quintile did in 2010, compared to eight-and-a-half times more a year earlier. Likewise, the country’s Gini coefficient, a universal measure of income distribution inequality, decreased from 0.415 in 2009 to 0.402 two years ago. In Gini terms, countries are assigned values between 0 and 1 to represent the extent of their income inequality. The higher their Gini coefficient, the more unequal their income distributions are.

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