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Multidimensional Poverty Line in Iran

While Iranian economists talk about a multidimensional poverty line in Iran, citizens see a resolution in fundamental political changes.

Today, no one can ignore or conceal the expansion of and depth of poverty across Iran, which is becoming a historic event with uncountable consequences. However, some phrases such as the ‘poverty line’ no longer show the real dimension of this catastrophe.

Iranian economists and media use the ‘multidimensional poverty line’ to describe a part of the people’s sufferings and difficulties. By reiterating this literature, officials are implicitly admitting to the Islamic Republic’s economic collapse.

In such circumstances, the coronavirus has swept the country and the number of code-red cities has dramatically increased. Even the government’s censorship apparatus can no longer cover up this reality, and various papers and websites frequently report, ‘There is a stench of death in many cities.’

Such dire conditions have pushed the officials to apologize to citizens and provide damning details about the real scope of the pandemic. For instance, Ali Reza Zali, the chief of the Tehran Covid-19 Task Force, revealed that the health officials deceived representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO) during their visit to Iran.

“When World Health Organization experts came to Iran, instead of conducting advisory sessions with them, we constantly asked to praise our medical apparatus in the media. We concealed the death toll from the WHO. We returned global aid and those from Doctors Without Borders at the airport,” the semiofficial ISNA news agency quoted Zali as saying on August 12.

Thirty-three percent of Iran’s population is below the multidimensional poverty line

On the other hand, many people from low-income classes, particularly children, search garbage bins for something to eat or sell. While social media have been packed with such scenes, officials announce fabricated stats to downplay unbridled poverty across Iran and evade state-backed mafia and plundering organizations.

For instance, the Parliament [Majlis] Research Center declared the poverty line for a family of four is 45 million rials [$225] per month. This number had witnessed an 80-percent increase within two years. However, a representative of a labor association announced the real poverty line is 100 million rials [$500] a few months later.

Furthermore, the World Bank’s recent report on Iran’s economic situation shows a significant part of society cannot even afford essential food for their families. Earlier, state-run media acknowledged that around 90 percent of working families in Iran live below the poverty line.

Multidimensional Poverty line

Nowadays, economists and experts invent new literature to explore the dire financial conditions. The multidimensional poverty line is one of their recent inventions in addition to:

– Relative poverty line

– Absolute and extreme poverty line

– Rough poverty line or starvation

To find a real view from this classification, the ‘relative poverty line’ describes a situation whereby low-income families earn and spend lower than the official poverty line. In the ‘absolute and extreme poverty line,’ people cannot provide for their essential needs. In ‘rough poverty line or starvation,’ citizens are not classified in the previous definitions and suffer from severe starvation.

“Estimations from 2001 to 2019 declare that around 33 percent of the country’s population were averagely placed below the multidimensional poverty line in this period. The poverty line also reached from 9.5 million rials in 2011 to 100 million rials in 2020,” Bakhtiari told ISNA.

“According to results obtained through studies in the poverty sector from 2001 to 2019, families’ expenditures grew 22 times in these 18 years. The inflation rate, which is the main parameter for increasing poverty and decreasing purchasing power, reached 41 percent as of 2019,” he added.

In such circumstances, desperate people, who suffer from unbridled poverty and starvation, witness how the government squanders national resources on costly projects, including making nuclear weapons, advancing ballistic missile rages, and fueling ethnic and religious conflicts in the Middle East, and sponsoring extremist and terrorist proxies.

In response, outraged citizens explicitly slam authorities’ policies, chanting, “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon, my life for Iran,” “Let go of Syria, think about us,” and “[The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] IRGC, you are our ISIS.”

They also frequently chant anti-establishment slogans, including, “Death to the dictator” and “Death to [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei,’ venting their anger over the entire religious tyranny and declaring their willingness for fundamental political-social changes in Iran. They believe that their economic dilemmas will only be resolved through the replacement of the theocracy with a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear republic.

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