Turkey, like its eastern neighbor Iran, has slipped below replacement level fertility, and the government of President Erdogan is no happier about this state of affairs than is the Iranian government. So, what to do? Thanks to Abu Daoud for pointing me to a story with the answer--cash bonuses for women who quit university and have a baby. Really? Less education and more babies is a real step backward and it seems unlikely that many women will jump at this. What seems to be going on here is that the government is trying several different things to keep women out of the labor force. Despite its current low fertility, Turkey has a fairly young population because fertility only recently dropped to those low levels. In the 1980s and 1990s, women in Turkey were still having 3-4 children each and those kids are now looking for jobs and pushing up unemployment rates. In the past this might have been dealt with by young people migrating to Germany. But anti-immigrant sentiment in Germany and competition from Syrian and other refugees means that migration is not as big a safety valve as it once was for Turkey. So, another way to deal with this is to remove women from the labor force, thus creating less competition for men searching for jobs, and that seems clearly to be what the government has in mind. After all, it will be a while before babies born now will have a big economic impact, and in the meantime the bulge of young people will be "handled." This is, of course, a very short-sighted perspective that essentially kicks the demographic can down the road.
This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.
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