Morocco’s Economic, Social, and Environmental Council (CESE) drew up its 2017 annual report on economic inequalities, social inequalities, and gender imbalances. The report also gave recommendations to tackle inequality in Moroccan society.
The 2017 report states, “The social movements recorded during the recent period have shown that poverty, youth unemployment, exclusion and inequalities are increasingly experienced as injustices by the population.”
In Morocco, income poverty “has declined significantly, but the proportion of people affected by multidimensional poverty remains high,” reads the report.
The report stated that inequalities still have significant impact on the country’s social cohesion.
The words “inequalities” and “disparities” appeared more than 130 times in CESE’s 190-page report.
Public’s intolerance toward inequality is increasing and citizens have become more aware of their rights and have been expressing more dissatisfaction, needs, and expectations.
In February, King Mohammed VI said in a message to the participants of the third parliamentary forum on social justice, “It has become clear that our [development] model, which contributed to countless tangible economic and social achievements, is no longer able to respond to citizens’ growing demands and needs.”
To illustrate “citizens’ feeling of frustration,” the report stated that the rate of subjective poverty, which was around 45 percent in 2014, significantly exceeded the rate of monetary poverty, at 4.8 percent.
According to the CESE report, Morocco has made progress in the number of people living with monetary poverty, which decreased from 15.3 percent in 2001 to 4.8 percent in 2014.
In 2014, the poverty line in Morocco was set at an annual expenditure per capita of MAD 4,667 in urban areas and MAD 4,312 in rural areas.
However, in Morocco economic disparities assessment can only be made indirectly through differences in annual expenditures per inhabitant. Morocco’s statistical apparatus does not enable it to measure income disparities, the report noted.
Young people suffer the highest unemployment rates, with an unemployment rate of 26.5 percent in 2017, compared to 10.2 percent as the national average. The rate exceeds 40 percent among young people in urban areas.
The exclusion of young people in employment is due, according to the report, to the fact that the job market favors people with experience, and there is a mismatch between training and employment opportunities.
The report also mentioned discriminatory and unjust behaviors such as corruption and nepotism as contributors to a system where merit is less important and to young people’s lack of confidence in the labor market.
According to a 2014 survey by Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP), approximately 64 percent of people surveyed estimated that inequality had increased in Morocco, and only 7 percent thought that inequality had declined.
The highlighted figures represent, according to CESE, “a weak capacity of the economic, social, institutional, and political environment to meet the expectations of large sections of the population and to improve their living conditions.”
Disproportionate exclusion from the labor market also impacts women, whose unemployment rate was around 14.7 percent compared to 8.8 percent for men in 2017.
The report explained the inequality in employment towards women by cultural discrimination and social stereotypes.
Social media raised awareness of inequality
The increasing use of social media and electronic press is another factor which contributed to changing citizens’ attitudes towards inequality, especially among young people.
The report said that internet and social media have enormously contributed to citizens’ awareness and public mobilization because social media has become a space for free expression and raising debate and issues of common interest to society.
The report added that access to the internet has allowed citizens to make comparisons between their own standard of living and that of other sections in society, especially comparison between social classes, between different regions, between sexes, and comparisons of living conditions with those abroad.
Social mobility inequality
The other element of change that has made social and regional inequalities even more intolerable is the ineffectiveness of social mobility mechanisms for large segments of the population.
The dissatisfaction climate among certain segments of society “is linked to the weakening of the meritocracy and the failure of traditional social elevators, such as equitable access to employment, equal opportunities, quality education for all,” wrote the report.
The report cited HCP’s figures on intergenerational mobility, published in 2013, which showed that only 35 percent of people aged 35 and over experienced upward social mobility compared to their parents, while the others experienced stagnated or decreased mobility.
Women and rural dwellers have more difficulty rising in social hierarchy due to discrimination.
According to the report, upward social mobility is attained by more men than women (43.7 percent to 17.9 percent) as well as urban dwellers than rural people (51.1 percent to 14.8 percent). On the other hand, downward mobility concerned more women (61 percent) than men (24.1 percent), and rural women (44 percent compared to urban women (19.3 percent).
CESE proposed recommendations covering priority areas of action to reduce inequalities in Morocco’s society.
CESE recommended that “the strengthening of social justice, accountability, good governance, the fight against corruption and all forms of abuse, should be put in parallel with an in-depth action to redress existing economic, social, and regional inequalities.”
CESE is an independent constitutional institution that King Mohammed VI set up on February 21, 2011. The council provides advisory services to the government and the two houses of Parliament. It also gives its opinion on the general orientations of the national economy and sustainable development.
Nizar Baraka, former finance and economy minister and secretary general of Morocco’s Istiqlal (Independence) party, is the president of CESE.