The Kapali Carsi

Desperate Housewives of Turkey?

A report from Ankara-think tank TEPAV made a big splash a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s the intro. to my latest Hurriyet Daily News (HDN) column, on the low labor force participation rate (LFPR) of women in Turkey. You can read the whole thing at the HDN website. I have an announcement to make before my usual addendum:

In the spirit of the Olympics, I am running a small contest: I left the last sentence of the column incomplete on purpose. Post your completed sentence as a comment below the column or email me privately. You can also post it as a comment below this post.  At the end of the day, my favorite will win a designer wife-beater. Let the games begin!

As for comments, as a formal-think tanker, who got his Turkey econ. career started at TEPAV back in 2005, I am very pleased with this written exchange between TEPAV and BETAM. As I have mentioned several times, Turkey has very few think-tanks with respect to its population and income. I have been thinking about writing an HDN column, or at least a post, on this for quite a while, but have not been able to get around to it yet.  Anyway, that’s why I never miss an opportunity when two Turkish think-tanks are discussing each other’s ideas/findings. For example, I had carried over to my column a similar episode between TEPAV and BETAM exactly two years ago. WOW, time does fly! BTW, if you are into think-tanks, On Think Tanks is an interesting blog and useful source of information.

Coming to the column, first of all, the numbers I mention in the second paragraph are net. In that sense,when I (for that matter, TEPAV) say that 868,000 of 1.2 million chose not to seek employment, I am not being strictly correct. But I don’t know a better way to say it. Also, as you may have already noticed, the numbers in the third graph, which I borrowed from Uysal’s note, are seasonally-adjusted. That should have been obvious, as the LFPR in the previous two graphs is a “wave”, whereas Uysal’s is almost a straight line. Similarly, when I say that “women’s labor force participation jumped 7 percent in two quarters”, I am sort of exaggerating the jump a bit, as the crisis was in February, and as you can see from my graphs, Turkish women’s LFPR  goes up in the spring and summer months (temporary employment). In fact, LFPR falls again a bit afterwards, but even without resorting to formal seasonality analysis, you can easily see that LFPR did indeed go up after the 2001 crisis, only to fall again as the economy bounced back. BTW, I have made it a tradition to write about Turkish women’s economic woes on or around International Women’s Day. Here’s what I had to say in 2012 and 2011, in case you are interested to read more.

Finally, BETAM is part of Bahcesehir University, to whom I would like thank for sponsoring my beloved Besiktas’s women’s volleyball team. As you may know, the club is undergoing financial difficulties, although not at the level or Glasgow Ranges, whose goalie Alan McGreger recently signed with Besiktas. They would probably have had to shut off women’s volleyball, like they did men’s, had they not found a sponsor. So thanks Bahcesehir!

6 Responses to “Desperate Housewives of Turkey?”

AkbarJuly 31st, 2012 at 7:05 am

Except that…. it doesn't make financial sence… (at least that's what I think). Same true here in Japan the tax laws, regulations and whole social welfare system set up for one bread winner family, hence having 2 income earners will hurt your family budget unless you both are high income earners.
( I know I won't win the wife-beater with this boring comment but in Japan and for the most part in Turkey too husband-beaters are more fasionable…gone the days of wife-beaters…don't you agree…:)

Emre Deliveli edeliveliJuly 31st, 2012 at 7:12 am

Maybe in Japan, but definitely not in Turkey. Lack and expensiveness of child care is an issue, so you are partially right.

Re husband-beater: I am sure that is the case in Japan, but in Turkey, domestic violence is a serious marriage hazard for women…


Emre Deliveli edeliveliAugust 3rd, 2012 at 9:16 am

Well, that's a very tough question to answer. In some respects, the old Turkey is still here. But there are also subtle changes: For example, the recent abortion debate is case-in-point:

Or take the alcohol issue: It is not banned outright, but there are huge taxes on it, and it is not easy to find a restaurant serving alcohol in conservative towns…

timAugust 9th, 2012 at 2:46 am

Its sad to see turkey disappear…the kemalist will be outnumbered by islamists and Erdogan will continue to speak in more islamic terms. Now you see a lot of burqas in Istanbul since the uprise in 1998.
I suppose you know about bernard lewis (the best islamic scholar and certainly most experienced). Try to listen to his comments in the last part here.
Turkey and Iran might within 10 years change roles….sad.
But what do you turks do and say about what has happened?

timAugust 9th, 2012 at 2:53 am

I mean the best western islamic scholar. And by Iran and turkey changing roles I mean that the public despise their government and what it has done in majority of the population…however turkey are changing to the creepy old Iran.
Dont you really have something to fight that?