Global Inequality increases; Turkey has highest rate in Europe

Global economic inequality is increasing, and the disparity in Turkey is especially alarming.  

A socio-economic crisis invariably give birth to the rhetoric ‘We are all in this together,’ among politicians and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). This cliché is an attempt to overcome objections and protest over inequality.

 It is not coincidental   that this statement has been used since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis by politicians and NGOs.  By  “we are all in this together,”  they mean that  COVID-19 and its correlative  restrictions affect everyone negatively. Is it possible to claim that the COVID-19 crisis and   related restrictions have impacted everyone in the same way?  

Oxfam International, a humanitarian organisation, releases a report almost every year to address the issue of global economic inequality.  On  January 25, 2021, Oxfam published an important report called “The Inequality Virus”. This report is valuable because it documents the growing threat posed by this issue, and it  provides  potential solutions.  One of this report’s main objectives is to show  how current economic systems increased the gap between rich and poor e during the COVID-19 global health crisis. 

Oxfam’s report stated that between  March 18 and  December 31, 2020, the ten wealthiest people in the world increased their fortunes by $540 billion. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s data for 2019, only 23 out of 196 countries’ gross domestic product (GDP) is higher than $540 billion. In other words, almost 90 percent of all countries  produce output (including Sweden, Thailand, and Argentina) which is less than the  earnings of the 10 richestt people in the world.  during the COVID-19 crisis. 

During the time when the ten wealthiest people in the world increased their wealth significantly, a Ugandan asylum seeker, Mercy Baguma, was found dead next to her “starving baby” in the UK. The Positive Action in Housing charity reported that her one-year-old son was suffering from malnutrition and required hospital treatment while this horrible incident occured. Surely this exemplifies  economic inequality today.

“The crisis has exposed our collective frailty and the inability of our deeply unequal economy to work for all,” the Oxfam report noted.

Economic inequality has increased during the COVID-19 crisis in Turkey too. A report shows that the number of millionaires increased by 32,232 from March to June 2020, while almost a million people lost their jobs in Turkey. Murat Ülker remains Turkey’s richest billionaire, according to Forbes’ 2021 list of the world’s wealthiest people. His wealth jumped to $6.3billion in 2021 from $4.3billion in 2020. While millions of people lost their primary income, there was a record-breaking increase in the super-rich’s wealth during the COVID-19 crisis in Turkey. 

The rise of economic inequality during the global health crisis  caused by the inadequacy of existing economic policies in Turkey, . The Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey’s report “Income Inequality and Poverty during the COVID-19 period” indicated that the numbers of the poor  haveincreased by 8.4 percent in the last two years, and  seven people out of ten  people are in debt in Turkey.

This report also indicates that Turkey has the highest income inequality among European countries. Furthermore, according to the updated Turkish Statistical Institute’s data, additional 250,000 people became unemployed, and the unemployment rate was 26.9 percent for youth (15-24 years old) as of February 2021.

The Turkish government recently began distributing free bags of onions and potatoes to people in some cities to prevent any possible public protest against mismanagement of the economy. Yes, tens of thousands of people cannot meet even their most basic needs in Turkey.  

It would be better if the Turkish government  focused on reducing the gap between rich and poor , instead of distributing a insignificant amounts of foodstuffs. The government must implement a policy to reduce the number of people who  need a free bag of onions and potato.

As the poor  fall  further and further behind the rich during the COVID-19 global health crisis, it becomes clear that the COVID-19 crisis affects each person differently , and “we are NOT all in this together”.



The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.
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