Iraq, with its socialist economy, pays considerable attention to welfare. This regard for social benefits has been increased by the war. No statistics were available in early 1988 by which to judge the scope of benefits paid by the government to its servicemen and their families. Nonetheless, journalistic reports indicated that martyrs' benefits--for the families of war dead-- and subsidies for young men who volunteer for service tended to be extremely generous. A family that had lost a son in the fighting could expect to be subsidized for life; in addition, it was likely to receive loans from the state bank on easy terms and gifts of real estate.
Minimal information was available in early 1988 concerning social welfare coverage. The most recent published data was that for 1983, when the government listed 824,560 workers covered by social security. In addition, pensions were paid to retirees and disabled persons as well as compensation to workers for maternity and sick leaves.
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Although a number of first rate military analyses of Iraq and the war have appeared since 1980, there has been little useful research on the social changes that were occurring. Much of the information that would make up such studies has been withheld by the government because of wartime censorship, and in some cases material that has been made available appears to be untrustworthy. A number of classics therefore continue to be required reading for those interested in the society of Iraq. Wilfred Thesiger's Marsh Arabs graphically depicts life among the southern Shias in the mid- and late 1950s. Robert Fernea's Shaikh and Effendi describes social conditions in the central Euphrates valley and Elizabeth Fernea's Guests of the Sheik deals with the role of women particularly. Classic historical treatments of the Kurdish question are found in Edmond Ghareeb's The Kurdish Question in Iraq and W. Jwaideh's The Kurdish National Movement. The latest work on the subject is The Kurds: An Unstable Element in the Gulf by Stephen Pelletiere. For an excellent treatment of the Baathist elite see The Old Social and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq by Hanna Batatu. Also on the same topic is Iraq: Eaastern Flank of the Arab World by Christine Helm. For the best all around treatment of Iraq in the recent period, see Phebe Marr's The Modern History of Iraq.
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