In a state such as Kuwait, class based on private property and wealth becomes less important than the power of access to the state that distributes the large (oil) revenues. Although Kuwait is a wealthy country and poverty is almost non-existent, there are still important divisions within society. There are divisions between long-settled tribal families and those who only settled in the last 3 decades and do not benefit from long established ties to the powerful. Some of the latter have not even been granted Kuwaiti citizenship and are usually called Bidoon , meaning "without" (nationality) and thus face grave disadvantages. Another important determinant of proximity to the state apparatus is the sectarian division between Sunni Muslims and Shiites. The Shi'a community (immigrants from neighboring countries) has often been excluded from the government bureaucracy that provides Kuwaiti Sunnis with work and social security.
The provision of social services to Kuwaiti citizens, compared with most Western countries, is extensive. The state welfare system especially cares for the needy, providing direct transfers to widows and students, and aiding families in need because of divorce, old age, disability, parental death, illness, or financial difficulty. Educational and marital status are taken into account in granting aid.