Causes of Poverty in Iran
Poverty in Iran? Big yes. Iran’s economy grew at an accelerated pace of 9.2 percent at the close of the Iranian fiscal year, an auspicious preview to the “economic revolution” promised by President Hassan Rouhani in his inauguration earlier this year. However, developments from the economic sector did little to create jobs for Iranians and failed to translate to any significant impact in addressing poverty in Iran. Over 70 percent of Iranians still live in poor conditions, while 30 percent were classified as absolute poor at the end of 2016.

Unemployment due to the lack of available jobs is still a grave concern among citizens, as the government is still unable to improve from the annual job creation rate of 600,000. This dismal number presents an even graver issue to be addressed: with over a million students graduating from college every year, most of these young Iranians are not able to find work and a source of income. One out of four young Iranians are unemployed, and most of them end up falling into the 61 percent of the population who are neither employed nor looking for employment.

Even graduating with a higher degree (for example a master’s degree or a Ph.D.) does not guarantee anybody a job upon graduation. Many of these people have struggled to find jobs that are in line with their specializations and often opt for blue-collar jobs with meager salaries just to put food on the table. Mehdi Ebrahimi, an Iranian man who received a master’s degree from Tehran’s Payame Noor University, has chosen to carry heavy loads in border areas to be able to earn income and fend for his family, instead of embarking on a painstaking search for work in line with his degree.

 

What Causes Poverty in Iran

 

Hardship does not end with securing a job, however, since 90 percent of the labor force lives below the poverty line. Disgruntled workers argue that the minimum wage income of 8,112,000 Iranian rials (roughly $246) is barely enough to cover basic necessities. For a family of four, surviving requires roughly twice the amount.

“Many workers cannot even afford the basic products they need for survival. Many of these items are now considered luxuries,” said Rahmatollah Poormoussa, head of Iran’s state labor organization.

To put the wage disadvantage that these workers have in contrast to their international counterparts, the Iranian minimum hourly wage of roughly $1 is a tenth of the average minimum wage in Western countries and only a third of the wage taken home by workers in Turkey. China, notorious for paying workers the lowest minimum wage, pays about 1.2 times more than their Iranian counterparts.

Contractual employment is also a challenge for these workers. For irregular laborers, contractual work often means an unstable and unreliable flow of income. Most of these workers are not paid until weeks after they are due their wage, and most of the time their wage does not come before their stock of basic necessities is depleted. It is no surprise that 95 percent of contractual workers fall under the poverty line.

Subsequently, they and their dependents suffer from the insecurity of not knowing when breadwinners will be able to take their wages and buy food and other needs. Contractual workers and their families comprise a large amount of the 70 percent of Iranians who reported to be food insecure.

The difficulty of creating jobs may likely be a result of long political turmoil, caused by national and international conflicts, as well as the previous closure of industrial and manufacturing units. Economic conditions have become slightly better after sanctions against the country were lifted, but it has still not been enough to promote the well-being of citizens and alleviate conditions for the poor.

Critics of the Rouhani’s administration have also cited the regime’s pouring of funds into foreign conflicts and military spending rather than on infrastructural and social welfare projects as a reason for the ineffectiveness of government to address poverty in Iran. If Rouhani’s government really wants to jumpstart the “economic revolution” he has promised his people, they say, he must begin to see infrastructural and welfare projects as a top priority for his administration.

Investing in these projects will be a good starting point in fixing the market, improving the quality of lives of workers and subsequently address the growing problem of poverty in Iran.

Bella Suansing

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in ArmeniaArmenia is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe that saw a steady decrease in poverty after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. However, Armenia was hit quite hard by the recession in 2008, and the economy is still trying to right itself. Many families in Armenia struggle to find work and affordable necessities. The poverty rate in Armenia is 29.8 percent. The main causes of poverty in Armenia are a lack of jobs within the country, a high unemployment rate and a weak agricultural system.

Migration of Workforce

One of the main causes of poverty in Armenia is a lack of jobs. This is demonstrated through the number of workers who emigrate. The majority of men leave the country to earn wages in Russia. Some researchers estimate that almost 14 percent of the Armenian population has emigrated to find employment elsewhere.

In order to combat this problem, Armenia needs to create more job opportunities within the country. Currently, one-fourth of jobs in Armenia are low-paying jobs; thus, Armenia needs to create more middle-income positions. Formal businesses want the government to impose more regulations so that informal employers do not have advantages. If the Armenian government intervened, these businesses could create many more jobs.

Poverty and Unemployment

Unemployment and poverty in Armenia are closely linked. In 2010, when the head of the household was unemployed there was a 50 percent chance they lived below the poverty line. The reported unemployment rate in Armenia is 16 percent. The average job search is 20 months. Unemployment benefits in Armenia are minimal, so a large percentage of the unemployed do not register. The number of unemployed people in Armenia is estimated to be closer to 30 percent.

There is low labor force participation in Armenia. Around 70 percent of women in Armenia are unemployed and only 55 percent of women who are of working age are active in the economy. One way to solve this aspect of unemployment is for the government to create incentives to encourage women to join the workforce. The Armenian government can also work to remove barriers to working such as transportation or household responsibilities.

Weak Agricultural System

The agricultural system in Armenia does not create enough jobs or affordable food. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Armenia had to replace some of its industrial economy with agriculture to feed its people. The government rapidly created small farms and sold them to citizens. Many of the newly minted farms were created in mountain regions with difficult terrain. Farmers often lack agricultural knowledge. In addition, many of the small farms do not have adequate infrastructures or access to farming technology. Government policy has not bolstered the efficiency of farms; instead, changing regulations and policies have damaged the agricultural sector. If Armenia can develop its agricultural sector through education, infrastructure and policy, the country will be able to produce more of its own food and improve the standard of living.

While over one-quarter of Armenians live in poverty today, this number can be reduced. Creating more attractive jobs within Armenia will encourage citizens to work in their country. In addition, the development of programs to help people join the workforce will help decrease the unemployment rate. Finally, as Armenia improves its agriculture system, the price of food in the country will decrease.

Sarah Denning

Youth Unemployment CrisisYouth unemployment is an increasing worldwide crisis. As of 2016, the International Labor Organization (ILO) reported that 71 million 15 to 24-year-olds around the world are unemployed, many of whom are facing long-term unemployment. To put this number into perspective, youth unemployment is “close to an historic peak” of 13 percent.

The youth unemployment crisis impacts low-income countries the most because even employed citizens are at risk of poverty. In 2016 the ILO estimated that about 156 million employed youths in these countries lived in poverty. This makes up a substantial 38 percent of youths in developing nations.

For the sake of the world’s economy as well as these youths, here are four potential solutions to the youth unemployment crisis:

  1. One of the main causes of the youth unemployment crisis is the lack of quality education worldwide. It was reported in 2016 that about 40 percent of employers find it difficult to recruit people with needed skills. This is because about 250 million children worldwide do not acquire basic reading, writing and math skills. Therefore, nearly one in five youths do not gain the most basic skills needed for employment. By ensuring quality education globally, students will be able to acquire skills needed for gaining employment.
  2. A significant number of youths cannot acquire the education needed for employment because of crisis and conflict. An estimated 75 million children between the ages of three and 18 currently live in countries that are in conflict. These children are twice as likely as their counterparts to have no access to quality education. Thus, to resolve the youth unemployment crisis by allowing youth to get jobs, crisis and conflict in war-torn countries must first be dramatically reduced.
  3. To resolve the youth unemployment crisis, the focus must also shift toward gender equality in education. Gender distribution in the international labor force is woefully disproportionate. According to the ILO, 53.9 percent of young men compared to 37.3 percent of young women are employed. This is due in part to cultural beliefs regarding working women, but also has to do with a lack of women’s education. Globally, 61 million young women are not enrolled in primary or lower-secondary school, giving them little opportunity to gain skills for employment. This includes literacy, as “two-thirds of the world’s illiterates are women.” Therefore, addressing gender inequality in education is a necessary step towards reducing youth unemployment.
  4. Aside from reforming education, tackling youth unemployment will also take commitment to funding research, educational programs and employment programs. In order to finance these programs, funding for education needs to increase to $3 trillion by 2030. As the current investment in education stands at $1.2 trillion, reaching this goal requires large-scale cooperation. This means that companies, governments, non-government organizations and schools must form partnerships to invest in research and solutions to youth unemployment.

Resolving the youth unemployment crisis is critical for not only the well-being of youths worldwide, but also for the global economy. Mass youth unemployment slows progress and thereby it is essential to take steps toward ending it.

Haley Hurtt
Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in El SalvadorEl Salvador is a country about the size of New Jersey, with a population of just over six million. In the past decade, poverty levels in this Central American country have dropped significantly. But 36 percent of rural Salvadorians still live in poverty. Why? These are three of the biggest causes of poverty in El Salvador:

1. An Unproductive Economy
Levels of poverty in countries are nearly always tied to the vitality of that country’s economy. And while El Salvador’s economy has made strides in recent years, it still suffers from stagnation. This is particularly evident in the agricultural sector. Salvadorian coffee crops have been damaged by coffee rust, a fungus that kills coffee beans. As coffee exports decreased, the economy suffered. Many rural Salvadorians were plunged into poverty. This sluggish economy is particularly detrimental for youth populations, who struggle to find employment. Fortunately, organizations like the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are offering help. Between 2015 and 2021, IFAD plans to invest 41 million US dollars into El Salvador’s agriculture community. IFAD’s strategy is a community-based approach, another sign of their commitment to Salvadorians. In short, IFAD’s intentional aid is helping eradicate the causes of poverty that plague El Salvador.

2. Crime
El Salvador is the most violent country in the world. Much of El Salvador’s crime is attributable to rampant gang violence and drug trafficking. According to World Finance, “approximately 70 percent of businesses in El Salvador are subject to gang-related crime.” This extortion stunts the El Salvadorian economy, leading to widespread poverty. The World Bank estimates that in 2011 alone, crime cost El Salvador’s government over two billion US dollars, 10.8 percent of the country’s GDP. By 2014, the cost of crime increased to 4 billion US dollars, 16 percent of El Salvador’s GDP. These levels of crime lead to massive instability and cripple the economy. These outcomes inevitably increase poverty levels.

3. Climate Change
Climate change is the most silent of all the causes of poverty in El Salvador, but is just as dangerous. El Salvador is highly susceptible to changes in weather due to its location. As the Earth’s temperature’s rise, El Salvador’s crop yield is expected to drop by 30 percent by 2050. Salvadorians are already beginning to feel the effects of climate change. Drought has affected over 80,000 people. As climate change continues, farming in El Salvador will become harder and harder. Agriculture accounts for 17.3 percent of total employment. As farming becomes less viable, more rural Salvadorians will find themselves in poverty.

Understanding the causes of poverty in El Salvador is vital for discovering routes towards change. Organizations like IFAD and Salvadorians themselves have already begun the work of development. But more needs to be done, and you can help! All it takes is a phone call or email to your representatives. Urge them to support aid and investment in developing countries, including El Salvador.

Adesuwa Agbonile

Photo: Flickr

Youth Unemployment Rate in GreeceThe youth unemployment rate in Greece has reached tremendously high levels and is resulting in the growth of poverty among young Greeks, in addition to stunting the development of the Greek economy. As of May 2017, the youth unemployment rate in Greece reached a staggering 46 percent. This rate means that roughly half of the Greek youth population are unable to find employment opportunities.

Looking at the high rate of youth unemployment, one factor can be seen as its primary cause: Greek debt.

In 2011, due to its ballooning debt levels and fears that Greece would default on its debt, European counterparts were forced to give Greece a bailout package of 109 billion. As part of the loan, however, major credit rating agencies gave Greece a rating along with a disclaimer saying there would be a substantial risk of default on Greek debt.

By giving Greece this rating, the country pushed away potential investors in the Greek economy, and, in combination with the effects of Greek austerity programs, substantially hurt the growth potential of the Greek economy. The adverse effects observed in Greece are exemplified by the fact that the country’s economy has contracted by a quarter since the crisis began.

The minimum wage in Greece is calculated differently for younger people than it is for people over 30, so young Greeks who have a job are often paid at a significantly lower rate than older workers.

As an overall effect on poverty in Greece, the high youth unemployment rate will very obviously impact the country and raise its poverty rate. As the Greek economy continues to deteriorate and young people continue to go without opportunities to work, the poverty rate in the country will inevitably grow.

Going hand-in-hand with the increase in the rate of poverty among young people in Greece is the level of youth homelessness. As the unemployment rate continues to climb, the rate of homelessness among Greek youth – in addition to the rate of substance abuse – both continue to rise.

Overall, the youth unemployment rate in Greece is elevating enough to become a significant issue requiring foreign assistance to resolve. As countries capable of proving support, the United States and Greece’s European counterparts must increase aid to help Greece combat this problem. By focusing efforts on increasing the success of the Greek economy, issues such as youth unemployment will certainly begin seeing improvement.

Garrett Keyes

France’s Poverty RateIn the near-decade since the global financial crisis, France, Europe’s third largest economy, has taken longer to recover than other major economies. Specifically, the French economy posted a growth rate just below 1.1 percent in 2015, lower than the growth in Germany (1.7 percent) and the U.K. (2.2 percent), the two largest economies in Europe. Despite the crisis and stagnant economic growth, France’s poverty rate has remained relatively low compared to other EU nations.

The National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) officially reported France’s poverty rate from 2014 at 14.1 percent, equating to more than nine million people. INSEE estimated that the 2015 rate would grow to 14.3 percent, and plans to release the official statistics in September. This rate is better than the EU average of 17.2 percent, as well as many individual European economies, but still covers a large portion of the French population.

When determining the economic status of France, the poverty rate should not be the only number consulted. Unemployment remains high in France. In the most recently reported month, June 2017, unemployment in France stood at 9.6 percent. This is higher than the average in the EU and is more than twice the rates in Germany (3.8) and the U.S. (4.4) from the same month. Nearly three million people who are looking for a job in France cannot find one. Additionally, there is the concern of the next generation of French workers since the unemployment rate for workers between the ages of 15 and 24 is 24 percent.

However, it is difficult to determine whether there is a link between lowering the unemployment rate and lowering France’s poverty rate. France calculates its poverty rate in a relative manner, using an income of 60 percent or less than the average median income in the country as the poverty line. Gaining employment in France increases an individual’s income, but also shifts the poverty line as the median income changes. However, the high unemployment rate does have major implications on the future of the French economy.

Addressing poverty, the high unemployment rate and economic growth are major challenges faced by recently inaugurated president Emmanuel Macron. President Macron endorsed a number of proposals to address these issues during his campaign. The proposals include training programs for more than one million young people, making working hours more flexible and offering incentives to businesses hiring from poor neighborhoods. Implementation of and results from these proposals may not be seen for some time, but each works to address the poverty rate, unemployment rate and economic growth in France.

Erik Beck

Photo: Google

Italy's Birth RateItaly’s birth rate has continued to drop, according to the most recent report from the Italian National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT). This is the second year in a row that the national number of births has dipped to fewer than half a million. The birth rate is currently at 473,438.

In 2015, the country saw its fertility rate plunge to its lowest since the Italian modern state was formed in 1861. The national average birth rate of 1.35 children per woman is significantly less than the average for women across the European Union at 1.58.

Political analysts have cited the spikes in poverty and unemployment rates among the youth as possible factors that may have spurred the decline of Italy’s birth rate. Even though the birth rate has been steadily decreasing since its peak during the 1960s, it has fallen significantly years after the 2008 global financial crisis. From 2008 to 2013, Italy passed through its longest and deepest economic recession; as an effect, the national unemployment rate grew from 5.7 percent in 2007 to 13 percent in 2014.

The aftershocks of the recession hit young Italians the hardest. As the country starts its path towards economic recovery with increasing in small increments of the GDP and a gradual decrease in the unemployment rate, Italy’s youth fall deeper into poverty. A 2017 report from Caritas, an Italian Catholic organization focused on social development in the country, reveals that one out of 10 young Italians are now poor, a stark contrast from the two percent poverty rate in 2007. Moreover, close to one of five young Italians are neither employed nor in the workforce, almost double the EU average at 11.5 percent. Youth unemployment, consistently high since the economic downturn in 2008, is still at 37.8 percent, the third-highest in the European Union.

The youth who are more fortunate to be employed, often either have irregular contracts or earn significantly less than their older colleagues. According to the Employment and Social Developments in Europe (EDSE) review published by the European Union (2017), 15 percent of Italian employees aged 25 to 39 have irregular contractual work, while workers aged under 30 earn 60 percent less than workers over 60.

The lack of financial security has had a marked impact on Italy’s youth, who with the uncertainty in the job market have opted to stay home until they are financially and professionally stable. Italians now leave home and have their first child at the age of 31 or 32, five years after the average European.

Members of the Italian government have recognized the interrelation between the decline in Italy’s birth rate and the increase in poverty and unemployment rates among Italy’s youth. “[With] no guarantee of income for citizens, most will not think about starting a family,” Italian health minister Beatrice Lorenzin said in 2016. Young Italians, suffering from the lowest wages in Europe and rising poverty rates, seem to know better than burdening themselves with trying to provide for dependents with their meager incomes.

Bella Suansing

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in CyprusIt is routine for countries to wave the banner of economic success while turning a blind eye to their citizens who do not benefit from their own country’s well-being. The reason for this is often an increased inequality gap in which the wealth of the privileged outweighs the poverty of the less privileged. Hunger in Cyprus may be surprising due to the country’s falsified “good” economic reputation, but poverty rates are at an all-time high.

Cyprus, classified as a low-income country by the U.N. until 1988, received a total of $331.6 million in aid from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the U.N. from 1973 to 1988. The FAO assisted Cyprus’ government in the formation of seven projects intending to lift Cyprus to high-income status. Since its success, Cyprus became a donor country itself, recently supporting projects in Georgia and Armenia. Unfortunately, Cyprus does not show the same concern for its own citizens.

Today, one in four Cyprus citizens live in poverty. Over 100,000 people are unemployed, and shopkeepers and small businesses struggle to stay afloat. In the city of Paphos alone, the Church of Cyprus reported that hunger in Cyprus requires them to provide food provisions for 800-1000 families each day. In addition, the nongovernmental organization Volunteer Groups reported that there are still over 12,000 additional families in desperate need of basic provisions.

And who do the citizens of Cyprus blame? A recent poll found that 80 percent of Cypriots no longer trust or believe the government, the authorities or the political elite. Furthermore, they directly blame those groups for poverty and hunger in Cyprus.

Poverty and hunger among the underprivileged seem harmless to a government only until the underprivileged come to massively outweigh the privileged. At this point, poverty and hunger in Cyprus have grown into a major threat to government and social stability, as well as the country’s international economic reputation. The only solution is to stop ignoring the statistics and begin to rebuild the economy.

Sophie Nunnally

Photo: Pixabay

Cost of Living in Cyprus
Cyprus is a small island in the Eastern Mediterranean and is the third-largest and third most populated island in the Mediterranean. Despite being an island, the cost of living in Cyprus is relatively low. The prices are about 25% lower than those in other Northern European countries.

There are many inexpensive commodities in Cyprus, such as the local seasonal fruit. Rent and utility bills are also relatively cheap on the island, especially water bills and electricity. Basic utilities are usually around 128 euros a month. The more expensive commodities in Cyprus are internet access, milk and clothing. Most of the milk is imported to the island, which raises the price. There are very limited options for clothing, and most are very expensive. Online shopping is an option, but internet costs upwards of 42 euros per month, making it a luxury.

A comfortable net income in Cyprus is between 10,251.61 euros and 11,960.21 euros annually. After the euro was introduced to the island, the prices there rose overall. The euro is still fairly new, so not everything has been affected yet, but the prices are predicted to rise further, including those of produce, utilities and clothing.

The island has a slow pace of life, which refers to the rate at which commodities are fixed when they break. People go days or weeks without electricity when there is an outage because the relaxed pace of life means that the electricity is not a top priority. This lifestyle can be nice but also has its downsides, especially with the unemployment problem in Cyprus.

This lifestyle and high unemployment rate both affect the cost of living in Cyprus. Cyprus has a lack of available jobs, which affects the country’s economy and its citizens’ decision-making. With the decreased income and the increasing cost of living in Cyprus, limitations are placed upon decision-making. Less becomes affordable for families and, in turn, can increase poverty rates. The unemployment rate has shrunk the economy, impacting the cost of living in Cyprus.

A somewhat positive impact on the country’s cost of living in Cyprus is the low transportation costs. Buses are cheaply available, but there are no active train systems, and these buses are unreliable. Most people rely on private taxis, instead of the bus systems, but these are more expensive. The citizens have been informed that a train system will be installed within a 15-year time frame.

Luckily, housing is quite affordable in Cyprus. The ultimate problems for the country are unemployment and price increases due to the introduction of the euro. These problems should be the focus of improving the cost of living in Cyprus.

Katelynn Kenworthy

Photo: Pixabay


With years of government instability and a decade of war, Iraqi’s have had to suffer through harsh economic woes. With the lack of infrastructure and only the very beginnings of a stable government, the average Iraqi has been affected by the economy the most. Here are 10 things you need to know about unemployment in Iraq.

  1. As of 2016, the unemployment in Iraq reached 16 percent. For the last decade, Iraq’s unemployment has stayed alarmingly stagnant with the lowest year for unemployment being 2014, with a 15 percent unemployment rate.
  2. The Iraqi population, currently at 34 million, is predicted to reach 50 million by 2030.
  3. The Iraq government employs 40 percent of the population, but, 48 percent of those jobs can only be found in urban areas.
  4. Fifty percent of Iraq’s population is under the age of 19, but the youth population (ages 14-24) is highly affected by the economic woes leading to unemployment in Iraq. Eighteen percent of youth are unemployed.
  5. Ninety-nine percent of the government’s revenue is made by the oil sector, but only one percent of Iraqis work in the oil sector.
  6. Due to the high increasing tensions with the Islamic State rising in Iraq, oil companies are beginning to pull out a number of their facilities within the nation. In 2015, Chevron, the second-largest oil company in the U.S., pulled out two of its oil blocks. Last December, Exxon Mobil, the largest oil company in the U.S., pulled out three of its six blocks in Kurdistan. This type of sudden movement out of Iraq leads to loss of revenue for the government and has also led to the investment of other companies being halted. All of these factors highly affect the unemployment in Iraq.
  7. Five million Iraqis live in Kurdistan, one of the poorest areas in the nation. In 2015, Kurds were affected when 700,000 lost their jobs.
  8. Currently, 23 percent of people in Iraq live below the poverty line.
  9. The Iraqi government has tried to make a difference in the poverty levels. In 2015, the Ministry of Planning implemented a program aimed at ending poverty, which consisted of a five-year plan to decrease poverty to 10 percent. At the end of that same year, the MoP confirmed that its plan had failed, and no new attempts have been made since.
  10. The increasing influx of refugees has put a harsh strain on the already crippling economy of Iraq. As of 2015, two million refugees had been displaced all over Iraq because of conflicts with the Islamic State.

It is apparent that Iraq is in need of a new strategy to help restore its economy. Hopefully action is taken before the country falls into further disrepair.

Maria Rodriguez

Photo: Flickr