Nastiness Diagnosis. Anthropology. Religion. Gender. Justice. A Personal Notepad For the General Public.
In 2011, when Turkey had the fastest growing economy in Europe, enjoying an expansion of 8.5 percent, the richest 20 percent of Turkey’s 74 million people accounted for almost half of national income. The poorest 20 percent had just 6 percent.
Analysts blame Turkey’s inequality, in part, on a lopsided tax system that draws two-thirds of its revenue from indirect taxes such as an 18 percent sales tax on most goods and services, rather than direct levies such as income tax, which can be designed so that wealthier people pay higher rates. The sales tax itself seems distorted; the rate for clothing and caviar is 8 percent, and zero for some precious stones.
Other factors are the limited rights of trade unions, and barriers to women seeking work in a traditional Muslim society. Also, Turkey’s unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at between 8 and 9 percent.
“The social state is missing in Turkey. The highest amount of taxes is collected from the middle and lower classes,” said Turkish economist Mustafa Sonmez. He also cited draconian legislation limiting union activity that dates from a military coup in 1980.
“For the equal distribution of income you need strong labour unions, but this right has been scaled back since Sept. 12, 1980,” Sonmez said. “Workers don’t have a say in income distribution.”
In October 2011, 16 percent of the population was classified as living below the poverty line, with an income of 3,120 lira ($1,745) per month for a family of four.
The government, led since 2002 by the Islamist-rooted AK Party, defends its record. It points to the fact that the unemployment rate is down from a peak of 14 percent in 2009, at the height of the global financial crisis.
“Turkey is the only country that reduced unemployment in the period after the global crisis, through incentives and legislation t o invest in the education of the labour force and the reduction of labour costs to employers,” said Muammer Coskun, director of the Turkish Employment Service, an offshoot of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security which serves as an intermediary between employers and job seekers.