Over 30 million people live in Morocco. The population is disproportionately young, and 4 million of the people are impoverished. Almost half, or 43 percent, of the population lives in rural areas. The rural population is made up of “people engaged in artisanal fishing, landless people, rural wage earners, unemployed young people and women in all categories.”
Morocco has an income disparity between the richest 20 percent and the poorest 20 percent. The income disparity between rural and urban areas is also very significant. The poverty rate is almost 15 percent in rural areas, but in urban areas, the poverty rate is a third of that. Furthermore, illiteracy rates are nearly twice as high in rural areas as in urban areas.
Between 2003 and 2004, 12 percent of the rural population was underweight; this is double that of the urban population.
Maternal mortality rate is 130 per 100,000 live births, and the maternal mortality rate is almost twice as high in rural areas. A very small number of rural children receive an education. Compared to the 44 percent of urban children who attend secondary school, 16 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys attend secondary school. Amongst this percentage, over 300,000 children drop out every year, and almost half of the children must repeat a year.
However, the status of Morocco is rapidly improving. From 2000 to 2010, the poor population decreased by nearly half. A slowed population growth, improved economic growth, infrastructure development, microcredit and contributions from non-government organizations have reduced poverty rates.
From the 1990s until the early 2000s, the Moroccan government engaged in economic reform and deregulation of the economy. Over 100 companies were privatized by 1998, resulting in a significant growth in the country’s gross domestic product. However, the population in rural areas still experiences high rates of poverty, which results in high levels of migration to urban areas.
The high poverty rates, as evidenced, are seen mostly in rural areas. Coastal regions tend to have lower poverty rates, while Morocco’s mountain and south regions have the highest poverty rates.
As detailed by the gaps in education and maternal mortality rate statistics, the cycle of poverty rages on in rural Morocco. According to the Carnegie Papers, Morocco faces high illiteracy, and its economic growth is inconsistent. If the economy continues to improve and extend development programs to the rural population, the rates of poverty will decline. Should access to education or economic opportunity decrease, rates of poverty, particularly in rural areas, will increase.
– Tara Wilson