About 32% of Turkey’s population can survive on aid.

Hunger and poverty have fallen to the share of the citizens. Due to the economic crisis, rising unemployment and exorbitant price hikes, millions of households no longer even receive basic food items. Millions of citizens now need help in many areas, from food to housing, from health to heating, from school to care for the disabled.

In 2021, 27 million 189 thousand 433 people received assistance. While 5 million 903 thousand 515 households received social assistance last year, 2 million 476 thousand 457 of these households received regular assistance, 5 million 276 thousand 998 received temporary assistance, 1 million 849 thousand 940 households received both regular and temporary assistance.

In 2021, 11 million 369 thousand 761 people living in 2 million 830 thousand 5370 households received food aid. The number of people receiving food aid has increased by 157% compared to 2020. Food aid, on the other hand, is distributed only twice a year, during Ramadan and Eid al-Adha. Last year, potatoes and onions were also donated to 3.7 million households by social welfare and solidarity foundations.


Izmir Medical Chamber Member Dr. Ergün Demir and Istanbul Medical Chamber Board Member Dr. Güray Kılıç in their research revealed the dramatic situation of poverty and destitution in Turkey. Dr. Demir and Dr. Kılıç compiled from the 2019-2020-2021 activity reports of the Ministry of Family and Social Policies. “Poverty and Needy Status in Turkey in Numbers / Social Assistance 2021” According to research, more than 27 million people, including elderly, disabled, young people and children, have received social assistance in Turkey. Dr. Guray Kilic and Dr. Ergün Demir made the following striking findings in their research:

– In 2021, social assistance expenditure made by all public institutions was TL 97.8 billion. The ratio of social assistance to GDP was 1.74%.

– The General Health Insurance (GSS) premium of citizens whose average monthly income is less than 1/3 of the minimum wage per capita of people who do not work in insured employment or who do not have social security is paid from the general budget. In 2021, the GSS premiums of 9 million 482 thousand 940 people were paid by the state. In 2020, this number was 7 million 810 thousand 588 people.

– Under conditional medical aid (ŞSY), TL 494 million was paid to 1 million 230 thousand 12 people in 2021.

– In 2021, 5 billion 151 million TL was paid to a total of 631 thousand 755 people under the disability pension, and 620 million TL was paid to 98 thousand 116 people under the disability pension parents with disabilities (under 18).

– Monthly payments are paid to people aged 65 and over among citizens in need. In 2021, 7 billion 458 million 919 thousand 533 TL were paid for 836 thousand 665 people.

– TL 898 million was disbursed to 2 million 128 thousand 750 people in 2021 under Conditional Education Aid (CEE). THING is provided to families in need who do not have social security, on the condition that their children continue their formal education.


Dr. Kilic and Dr. Demir argue that welfare spending does not come out of politicians’ pockets and is used as a “vote” threat. However, social benefits are not really a blessing, but a legal right that the state must respect. Dr. Kılıç and Demir pointed out that citizens living in Turkey are getting poorer and used the following expressions:

– Poverty exposes children, women, the elderly and the disabled to the greatest risk of social exclusion. In times of crisis, social assistance should be further increased. Poverty and food shortages will increase.

– We observe that the purchasing power of employees has fallen rapidly, the inflation rate has increased, unemployment has increased. Due to worsening poverty and livelihood issues, most families are receiving support from neighbours, families and social assistance programs to keep their lives at the minimum level.

– Unemployment, poverty, difficulties in accessing the right to education and health and income inequality are among the main reasons for the increase in the number of people on social assistance and expenditure welfare programs in recent years.

– With the publication of the Turkish bulletin of social assistance statistics, the real inventory of poverty is not available. These figures should be re-explained.

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