Pathways to the middle class in Turkey : how have reducing poverty and boosting shared prosperity helped?
Turkey's poverty reduction performance in the 2000s has been remarkably consistent. Extreme and moderate poverty have fallen considerably since 2003. Between 2002 and 2011, extreme poverty fell from 13 percent to 5 percent, while moderate poverty halved from 44 percent to 22 percent (respectively, defined using the World Bank's Europe and Central Asia regional poverty lines of 2.5 and 5 USD/PPP). Most of this poverty reduction (89 percent) has been driven by growth, a performance consistent with most countries in Europe and Central Asia. This is substantially different form the recent performance of other regions, such as Latin America, where redistribution contributed to poverty reduction almost four times more than in Turkey. Turkey has also achieved sustained consumption growth of the bottom 40 percent of the population, even during the years of the world recession. Turkey's performance in poverty reduction and increased shared prosperity has been complemented by the systematic expansion of the middle class by 20 percentage points. This paper analyzes the main drivers of poverty reduction, shared prosperity, and changes in inequality in Turkey from 2002 to 2011. The analysis shows that labor markets, demographics, pensions, and social assistance have played a critical role in this process. It further explores some of the mechanisms that have facilitated these changes.
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