The Dignity Budget for Tunisia

The right to a decent life includes multiple dimensions. Some refer to the demands raised by the social movement of unemployed or vulnerable youth, or to those adopted by the democratic movement and civil society organizations that center around freedom of expression, work and access to healthcare, and the establishment of a democratic system that represents the interests of the majority of the people. It also refers to other dimensions related to the conditions of decent material living, which is exactly what this research project sought to address and analyze.

This project aimed to build a tool that responds to the entitlement of dignity through a participatory approach in which citizens are involved in identifying the necessary resources to cover their needs in a manner that guarantees minimum conditions for a decent living for Tunisian citizens. Compared to other approaches based on poverty rates to identify socially excluded groups, this project aims to define, through a citizen consensus, an inclusion threshold, the minimum Income that provides every citizen with the minimum resources necessary for a decent life against the risk of deprivation. This study, which is the first of its kind in the Arab world, is based on the Minimum Income Standards (MIS) methodology developed ten years ago by British researchers (Bradshaw et al. 2008) and then applied in several countries such as France and tested in model projects in Mexico and South Africa.

Three institutions unified their resources and expertise for this work: The Institute for Economic and Social Research (Institut de recherches économiques et sociales, IRES), which participated in this type of studies in France, coordinated the scientific project, while International Alert conducted field work. Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, FES) supported this project as it had supported a similar pilot project in South Africa. The three partners formed a scientific oversight committee that identified the major options for this project and ensured its follow-up in all its stages.

Given the limited available resources, it was decided to analyze the needs of a typical family consisting of two spouses and two children, residing in the four governorates of Tunis. The total amount of the dignity budget for a typical family agreed upon through this project for a family with two children between the ages of 7 and 14 living in Tunis amounts to at least 2.400 Tunisian Dinars (around 870 USD) per month. This is the average monthly budget that considers the fact that some expenses may be more important in certain months of the year (holidays, school returns). It is important to note, that the current minimum wage in Tunisia is still well below the threshold that would ensure decent living conditions for workers and their families. The dignity budget for a family with two children is around 6 times the current minimum wage. Assuming both spouses have full-time jobs, the minimum wage should be multiplied by about 3 to allow the family to have decent living conditions. This model work does not purport to represent all the existing situations in the entire territory of the Republic of Tunisia. Rather, its importance lies in the fact that it provides preliminary conclusions on a dignity budget that are suitable for public debate.

Currently the report is only available in French, Arabic and English translations are being prepared.

Download the French report here.

The Dignity Budget for Tunisia


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