Turkey: Amidst Economic Boom, Popular Gloom
In his EurasiaNet article today, my colleague Dorian Jones argues convincingly that while Turkey has enjoyed enviable economic success over the last decade, this success has also been accompanied by an alarming growth in economic inequality and a severe limiting of workers' rights.
An interesting companion to Jones's piece is a recently-released survey conducted by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a body that brings together some of the world's wealthier countries, including Turkey. Taking a look at various quality-of-life indicators in 36 countries, the survey found Turkey near the bottom of the heap in most cases. Reports the Wall Street Journal:
The list, which ranks member countries on 11 factors including income, safety, life satisfaction and health, appears to show Turks are downright miserable in comparison with their OECD peers. Just 68% of people said they have more positive experiences in an average day than negative ones, much lower than the average of 80%.
Analysts say a lack of education, unemployment, poverty and rapid migration are the main drivers of Turks’ dissatisfaction.
“I think Turkey’s social dynamics are different than European countries, our population is younger than of European countries, but migration from the rural areas to urban is very fast due to economic, social and security reasons,” said Ibrahim Balcioglu, professor at the psychiatry department of Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty. “Most of the young immigrants have problems, they don’t have enough professional education and have difficulties in adopting the city life style, which create ambiguity and tension in their lives.”
In particular, Turkey scored much lower than the OECD average when it came to employment figures. From the group's survey:
In terms of employment, 48% of people aged 15 to 64 in Turkey have a paid job, less than the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 69% of men are in paid work, compared with 28% of women. People in Turkey work 1 877 hours a year, more than the OECD average of 1 776 hours. Around 46% of employees work very long hours, much higher than the OECD average of 9%, with 50% of men working very long hours compared with 35% for women.
And perhaps Turks are a more grumpy nation, but according to the survey, only 68 percent of those surveyed said they had more positive experiences on a daily basis than negative ones. The OECD average in this case was 80 percent.
In recent years, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has increasingly spoken out about global poverty and injustice. The data suggests that in this case, charity might best start at home.