Turkey’s Income Inequality

TURKSTAT’s income distribution statistics have been published. Even assuming the data wasn’t tampered with, I can’t discount the results. The first reason is that it is based on declaration, which means that many unregistered and wealthy people hide their income. Secondly, there is no data on the highest income 1%. But the real reason is not income inequality, it is wealth inequality that is important. Unfortunately, this cannot be measured in Turkey, and the findings of the research group led by Pikketty are no longer up to date. There is a big difference between wealth and income, but the difference in meaning has widened in the last few years. Even if you receive a salary increase above the inflation and exchange rate increase; Even if you exceed the inflation that is felt, not measured (nonsense made up by TUIK); Because the value of assets has gone up so much, if you don’t own property, you are impoverished. So those who do not have homes, cars or big companies have definitely lost. You may think this is an investment success. But most people don’t have wealth to invest. Moreover, good investment advice is also associated with being very wealthy. Moreover, not everyone experienced such wealth gains by actively managing their wealth; He was wealthy and made a lot of money from where he slept.

One reason why the economy cannot create results in politics in Turkey is polarization. As an example, I can give social aid to groups close to the government. Unlike those who are against the government, the group close to the government does not feel this income inequality much, as they have easier and more access to social assistance and can even receive social assistance that is not their right, just because they know them. Moreover, since low-income people who are close to the government do not experience many indicators of a good life (holidays, cinema, books, cultural activities), they do not need to access them, and therefore do not psychologically feel income inequality. Not only that, there is another very important reason regarding this issue. Citizens are unaware of the wealth of the wealthiest segment. No money stashed in offshore financial centers and no need to travel to luxury flats in London. Türkiye is full of mansions and villas whose locations are little known. In other words, there are sites in Istanbul and its surroundings and on the Aegean coast that most people do not pass by. In addition, in completed skyscrapers, there are properties whose lights do not turn on at night, that is, they are not used but are part of someone’s wealth. These are unknown or socially accepted.

Of course, income inequality is also very important because it is a determinant in ensuring wealth justice in the long term. But the real issue is at the level of wealth. Someone who earns 100 thousand TL net is in the upper income bracket today. The house value he can buy in 10 years in an interest/inflation-free environment without eating or drinking is 12 million. According to Central Bank data, the average new house price in Istanbul is approximately 6 million. So even if you earn 100 thousand net monthly, which is only a dream for most of the country, you cannot even dream of anything more than a luxury car.

Finally, let’s not forget that the high-income segment also spends heavily on education, health and service sectors. Therefore, turning high income into wealth is more difficult than ever. Türkiye; a country where there is a hard line between those who have property and those who do not. If the economic policies, which are being tried to be more rationalized day by day, are successful (which is not very likely), that is, if financial stability is achieved and inflation is really reduced, the Turkish people can breathe to some extent. However, this situation will have almost no effect on the resulting wealth inequality. So we can say that an irreversible injustice has been created. The situation is bad, it will probably get worse, and at some point it will become unsolvable even if desired.