JESSICA: Poverty in Jordan

28 Feb

This week I want to talk about one of the biggest problems facing the Middle East- poverty.  The average  Jordanian makes about $5000 U.S. dollars a year. The average American makes about $45,000 U.S. dollars a year. This gap is bewildering to me. I can’t comprehend how anyone can live on such a little amount, but they do. Many things here are much cheaper, such as food or rent, but many other things here are 3 or 4 times as much as in America.  A $15,000 car in America can sell for $40,000 here. An average person living on an income of $150-250 a month cannot afford such luxuries. Most individuals will save their entire lives to buy a car. And although things here are much cheaper than America, they are still extremely expensive to the average |Jordanian.  Rent here (for an average apartment)  can range from $150- $300, where in my home town of Barre rent is from $500-$1000.  So even though rent is cheaper here, it is still more expensive as it will take up a higher percentage of one’s monthly income.

The country receives most of it’s income (60% I think) in aid and is still suffering. Everything is expensive. Inflation is very high here, around 1.7%. I am constantly hearing people complain about the rising prices. The public debt is 70% of the country’s GDP which is only 33 billion.  Economic growth is extremely slow. Official unemployment is about 13.5% but unofficial unemployment rate is 30%. Many people can’t find work. The prospects for college graduates and youth are very low. The average age here is 24 compared to 36 in America. Because the population is so much younger, unemployment will only increase.

People here have a lot less and it makes me feel guilty for how we live in America. Many people- especially in the village- only have a couple changes of clothes and wear the same thing over and over again. Most people don’t have cars and can?t buy own their own houses. Extended families often all live together because it is cheaper. Men can’t get married if they don’t have enough money. It is extremely sad. That’s all for now! I’ll try to write again soon about everything else I am noticing.


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