Human Development Report. Turkey 2008. Youth in Turkey

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Following the major economic crisis of 2001 which caused great damage to its economy and shook its social fabric, Turkey has taken a set of well-articulated measures and achieved continuous high economic growth of the order of 7.5% on average during the 2002-2006 period. Despite some continuing vulnerability in a number of areas, its general economic performance has been quite strong including in the area of investment and productivity which increased the economy’s capacity. Its external economic links have also been expanded via much higher levels of exports and Foreign Direct Investment. On the other hand in the same period the unemployment rate has remained stubbornly at around 10%, and the rate of participation of the labour force declined including for women whose participaton rate is as low as 26%. Youth unemployment remains a very serious problem. Little substantial improvement was visible in the education system despite a number of quantitative increases. Vocational education which is crucial for youth showed little sign of progress. In Turkey’s membership and convergence process to the EU, the progress achieved in other areas has remained relatively weak in the social domain in general. According to the Human Development approach, economic growth which is necessary for progress and provides opportunities for societal advance, satisfaction and happiness, is not sufficient in itself for achieving these goals. Warranted progress is achieved when, in addition to economic growth, members of a society acquire and expand the ability to protect and develop freely their potential and gain access to opportunities in an equitable way. Moreover, the Human Development approach does not only constitute a matter of choice, in fact the sustainability of economic growth itself is closely dependent on components which require the fullest possible development of social capacities of all members of society. This is all the more valid in an era when the knowledge economy is becoming the predominant pattern at the international and global level. For all these reasons Turkey’s further progress requires a broader based pattern of development with corresponding strong advances in the social sphere as well as in the framework of the Human Development approach. In fact today a separation between economic and social factors of development and progress is less and less valid even at the conceptual level. The advent of the knowledge economy renders the unbounded development perspective of human knowledge and cognitive capacity essential and thereby brings closer together in the functioning of the economy factors usually termed as economic and social respectively.


Ali Carkoglu, Aygen Aytac, Berivan Elis, Hakan Ercan, Kezban Celik, Richard Jolly

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