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 13th (it will be out in January 2020), 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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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Turkey Goes Pronatalist

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. 


  1. this type of thinking by a Governments ... is chauvinistic and bizarre! If Turkey is worried about their economy expanding ... then use the money to provide educational grants to the people. and help small business! If Turkey is worried about "power projection", then pay more money to the armed forces and give them better training. it's really strange when people see this as a demographics numbers game. what matters - is what percentage of your people is well educated and has economic opportunity!!

    Pete, Redondo Beach, CA

  2. It is interesting how this situation relates to the US where during World War two women started joining the work force as a lot of men went to war. After the war was over and the men returned then they found out that the work force was changed from before.