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Middle class is thriving

Feb 23,2014 - Last updated at Feb 23,2014

Despite the progress in every aspect of social and economic life in Jordan, we still have some activists claiming that the middle class is about to disappear. This claim is meant to give those who make it a desirable social and leftist touch.

This claim is completely false. The fact, as can be proved, is that at one time, around 90 per cent of the Jordanian population was poor, eating bread and tea for a typical breakfast and cooked crushed wheat for dinner. The people were equal in poverty.

Now, most of them have risen to the level of middle class, with its two categories, namely higher middle class and lower middle class.

My above claim is based on the fact that the standard of living has risen sharply year after year, as indicated by the volume of private consumption shown by the national accounts issued regularly by the Department of Statistics and the huge growth of imports.

Yes, there is still poverty in our country, just like in every other country, including advanced and rich countries.

The rising life expectancy to over 70 years is an indication of rapidly improving standards of living and quality of life.

If it is true that the poverty is on the rise, as claimed by some political observers, how come we find television sets in 98.2 per cent of Jordanian homes, refrigerators in 97.1 per cent, washing machines in 97 per cent, mobile telephones in 84 per cent, satellite dishes and receivers in 76.3 per cent, fixed telephones in 36.5 per cent of homes, private cars in 37.1 per cent of families and computers in 32.2 per cent of households?

The above are 2006 figures. The present figures must be higher.

Such solid facts evidenced by a published survey conducted by the Department of Statistics do not suggest that poverty is rising and that the standard of living is dropping. 

On the contrary, the evidence shows that the middle class is thriving and that a relatively decent lifestyle is the norm.

The false slogan that poverty is spreading is a political tool that creates a positive impression. Those who make the claim look as if they are siding with the weaker segment of the society, even though they themselves are well to do.

The slogan serves to discredit the government, as it implies failure of its social policies and failure in doing what it takes to redistribute the national income equitably and spread the fruits of economic growth in a just manner.

This slogan is usually coupled with claims such as: the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer.

So far, the promoters of these false statements failed to come up with any tangible evidence to prove their claims.

In another related indicator, it was found that the poorest 10 per cent of the Jordanian families receive one third of the overall average income of all families, while the richer 10 per cent of families receive three times the overall average, thus leaving an unavoidable and undeniable difference; compared to other nations, this difference is not too big.

Most Jordanian families (80 per cent) are around the centre of the income spectrum, evidence that the majority of Jordanian families fall in the upper and lower middle class.

It looks nice for any commentator to be seen as taking the side of the weaker part of the society, but any policy in the field of social economy, aiming at social justice, should be based on facts and figures, not on haphazard personal and partial impressions.

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