Jordanian middle class ‘is fading away’, with negative impact

(Photo: Ameer Khalefih/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The middle class in Jordan has been shrinking drastically over the past decade, and that negatively impacts the economy and society, and cause the economy to deteriorate further, experts say.اضافة اعلان

According to statistics published on the Jordan News Agency, Petra, website, the middle class in Jordan stood at 28 percent in 2014 (the latest for which statistics are available), compared to 41 percent in 2008.

Professor of sociology Hussein Al-Khozahe told Jordan News that the phenomenon should be dealt with seriously; it is critical because the middle class is a country’s main economic engine and safety valve.

He added that the middle class does not participate in social or political life because its “income and energy are directed toward satisfying its essential needs”.

As Khozahe said, “many will abstain from marriage and from settling down. So when the middle class becomes poor, there will be social and psychological effects as well”.

His Majesty King Abdullah has repeatedly stressed the importance of expanding the middle class and improving its living conditions.

The vision for the country, the King said, “must guarantee to unleash Jordan’s potential to achieve sustainable, comprehensive growth that doubles job opportunities, expands the middle class, and improves living conditions to ensure a better quality of life for citizens”.

Economic analyst Mazen Irsheid told Jordan News that economic indicators like the unemployment rate, which, according to the Department of Statistics, stands at 23.2 percent, and the poverty line point at a shrinking middle class.

Even holding jobs does not make the situation of many people better. “On the contrary, the purchasing power of individuals and family has shrunk drastically, which is an indicator of how the middle class is doing,” Irsheid stressed.

Irsheid said that since Jordan imports almost 80 percent of its food supplies and 95 percent of its fuel needs, the middle class is inevitably impacted by the increase in global prices.

“So with time passing, the drastic increase of the country’s debt, the increase in taxes, the removal of bread and fuel subsidies in 2014, all resulted in increasing the cost of living on citizens and a shrinking middle class,” Irsheid said.

“The middle class will continue to shrink if prices keep on increasing. All of the current indicators reflect further shrinking of the middle class because our economic policies did not change,” he stressed.

Economic and investment specialist Wajdi Makhamreh told Jordan News that the middle class creates financial balance because it can spend and consume more, “so any glitch in this balance would impact the economy and the government’s revenues”.

Makhamreh stressed that the middle class is in the process of fading away in light of the inflation and the decline in the growth of some economic sectors like education and health.

“The middle class cannot manage its financial commitments; many of these families have bank loans and the purchasing power is declining for the middle class,” Makhamreh said.

Makhamreh and Irsheid also agree that the Jordanian middle class will be affected the most, in the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine war, since this will impact fuel and wheat prices.

Read more National news