Researched and Reported By Samah Beibars
AlGhad Economics Department
A comparative report, conducted by Journalist Samah Beibars, indicates that the middle and fixed income classes in Jordan have eroded to 27.8 and 29.9 per cent, respectively, based on the 2013/14 census, which also shows poverty at 23.2 per cent.
Even though these figures are estimates, the margin for error remains statistically acceptable, given comparative data from recent years.
Based on the income census of 2010, monthly household expenditures in the range of JOD750-1166 are considered middle-income, JOD500-666 are considered fixed-income.
Households with a monthly spending capacity below JOD500 are placed in the low-income category. Their consumption capacities range from fragile to impoverished, especially households making less than JOD150, per month.
Estimates of consumer income-spending patterns from 2010 allocate a monthly range of JOD813.5-1112.3 and JOD500.6-813 for middle and fixed income households, respectively.
The poverty threshold was drawn at JOD500.5, per month.
Meanwhile, just two years earlier, in 2008, the income census placed the monthly income range for the middle-class segments between JOD510 and JOD1020.
According to the same census, the fixed-income category placed the monthly spending of fixed-income segments in the range between JOD402 and JOD657.
Also, the rate of poverty stood at 13.3 per cent, back in 2008.
All in all, the middle class comprised 41.1 per cent of the income distribution in 2008, and fixed-income classes comprised 37.5 per cent.
In the meantime, unpublished government figures from the survey in 2013/14, which was put aside by the government, indicate that the middle-income segments in the overall have shrunk to 28.85 per cent, compared to the 2010 census results, whereas poverty has increased to 23.2 per cent.
Notably, the government decided not to publish the results of the 2013/14 census, leaving out seven years of data, to rely on the results of 2010 official census. Their reasoning was that the Department of Statistics intents to introduce more accurate methods in the upcoming near future.
As for the spending patterns of the middle class, 92 per cent of their income goes to the following: 34.3 per cent goes to food and nutrition, 31.4 per cent goes to education, health, transportation, entertainment, and sports, and 26.5 per cent goes to housing and related expenditure.
As the costs of basic services, from education to health and transportation, notwithstanding, increases, the middle-class’s spending on food and nutrition is dropping, economic experts say.
Another indicator is the reverse influx of school students, from private schools to public schools, mostly due to the middle-class’s eroding expenditure capacities.
In the meantime, there is an overall consensus on the deterioration of public education and healthcare services.
Public education in Jordan, according to the World Bank (WB)’s recent studies has dropped to one of the lowest levels worldwide, as the public healthcare sector is deteriorating just as fast, almost.
Transportation, the WB says, drains a considerable sum of the middle-class citizen’s monthly salary.
On the other hand, the rise in housing costs and rents has also eroded a sizeable portion of the middle-class’s income.
Experts have been calling for more thorough research to uncover the real statistics on income-class distribution, in the absence of reliable, current data, for years no.
Meanwhile, officials and economic experts both agree on the necessity of finding solutions to the underway erosion of the middle and fixed income classes.
So far, the government has not presented any applicable, measurable economic solutions to the growing predicaments of income erosion in Jordan.
Revised, translated, and edited by Abdul Rahman Bazian
English Section Editor