May 28, 2014 - 1 Comments - Data -

Income Distribution in Turkey

Occupy Movement that emerged in the US in 2011 created a significant debate. Even though the Movement is usually criticised for failing to articulate concrete demands, it is widely known why this occupation came to being in the first place: As summarised in the slogan of the movement (We are the 99%), the movement questioned and criticised the income and wealth inequality and the fact that Main Street had to pay for the excesses of the Wall Street.

Economists devote a lot of time and energy in making sense of income (and wealth) distribution. Previously, we have noted that it is better to look at GDP per capita rather than the overall GDP per se. But even GDP per capita is misleading as it is merely an average value which renders the difference between rich and poor households invisible. To render this differentiation eligible one way is to divide the population in percentile income groups.

Income distribution data that The Economist provides on its news item on the Occupy movement is quite telling: In the last two decades, the income of the richest 1% of the USA increased fourfold. In contrast, the other groups remained the same and hence the gap widened dramatically. This dramatic income inequality shows that “We are the 99%” is more than a shallow slogan.

We are going to discuss income inquality in Turkey in a number of different ways (Gini coefficient, Mean and Median Income difference, Human Development Index) and will be able to compare it with other countries. In this entry, we will focus on Turkey only and study the most recent state of affairs.

In Table 1, we observe that in 2012 (the most recent update available), the richest and the second richest 10% receives 32.10% and 15.8% of the national income, respectively. The remaining 80% receives the 53.42% of the national income.

Table 1

In Table 2, the same data is represented in a more detailed form. This new table gives a remarkable information. In Turkey, the poorest 10% receives only 2% of the national income. The poorest 50% of the Turkey receives only 23.5% of the national income.

Table 2

If we go back to 6 years before to 2006, the earlierst data available at Turksat database, we can observe that there is a slight amelioration in income inequality since then. In 2006, the richest 10%, the second richest 10% and the remaining 80% received, respectively, a 32.45%, 15.99%, and 51.56% of the national income.

Table 3

If we consider 2006 and 2012 data together, we can arrive to the following provisional conclusion. In Turkey, while the richest 10% receives a third, the richest 20% receives nearly half of the national income.


Data is downloaded from the website of Turkish Statistical Institute,” Income Distribution and Living Conditions Statistics” link.

Statistical Table: “Deciles Ordered by Equivalised Household Disposable Income”

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