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Most people in Turkey are in debt amid COVID-19 pandemic, survey reveals

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A recent report drafted by the Public Services Employees Union of Turkey (Genel-İş), affiliated with the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK), on the social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on the world and in particular on Turkey has revealed that seven out of every 10 people in the country are in debt.

The impact of the epidemic has negatively affected living and working conditions and has led to deeper income inequality and poverty, the report said, indicating that the pandemic has pushed over 100 million people into poverty around the world.

Turkey has the highest income inequality among European countries, while Hungary, France and Germany have the fairest income distribution, the 12-page report, titled “COVID-19 Döneminde Gelir Eşitsizliği ve Yoksulluk Raporu” (Income Inequality and Poverty in the COVID-19 Period), also underlined.

According to the report, the risk of poverty in Turkey is two times higher than the European Union average. While the EU has an average of 21.4 percent risk of poverty, it is 39.8 percent in Turkey.

The report also revealed the stark contrast between women in Turkey and Europe as 41 percent of Turkish women are at risk of poverty while 22.3 percent of European women are in the same situation. For Turkish men the rate is 38.6 percent, while 20.4 of men in Europe are at risk of poverty, the report further showed. The risk of women falling into poverty is reportedly higher than that of men around the world due to the employment rates of both genders.

Nearly half the youngsters under the age of 18 in Turkey are at risk of poverty, compared to 23.4 percent in EU countries, the report revealed.

Sharing data on gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, the report showed that people have gotten poorer by nearly $1,500 in Turkey over the past year. While GDP per capita was $9,150 in 2019, it dropped to $7,715 in 2020, marking one of the lowest GDP per capita rates when compared to EU countries, according to the report.

The number of poor people in Turkey reportedly increased by 8.4 percent in two years. A total of 15,864,000 people were considered poor in 2017, 17,207,000 were classified as such in 2019.

The poverty rate in Turkey has hit 21.3 percent, while the number of poor workers has reached 7.7 million, the report showed.

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