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Türkiye has made considerable progress in improving the quality of life of its citizens over the last two decades. Notwithstanding, Türkiye performs well in a limited number of dimensions of well-being relative to other countries in the Better Life Index. It underperforms average in jobs, work-life balance, education, health, environmental quality, social connections and life satisfaction. These assessments are based on available selected data.
Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Türkiye, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is less than the OECD average of USD 30 490 a year.
In terms of employment, about 48% of people aged 15 to 64 in Türkiye have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 65% of men are in paid work, compared with 30% of women. In Türkiye, 25% of employees work very long hours in paid work, well above the OECD average of 10%, with 27% of men working very long hours in paid work compared with 20% of women.
Good education and skills are important requisites for finding a job. In Türkiye, 42% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, lower than the OECD average of 79%. However, completion varies between men and women, as 45% of men have successfully completed high school compared with 38% of women. In terms of the quality of the education system, the average student scored 462 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). This score is lower than the OECD average of 488. On average in Türkiye, girls outperformed boys by 9 points, above the average OECD gap of 5 points.
In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Türkiye is around 79 years, two years lower than the OECD average of 81 years. Life expectancy for women is 81 years, compared with 76 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 27.1 micrograms per cubic meter, above the OECD average of 14 micrograms per cubic meter. In Türkiye, 62% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, lower than the OECD average of 84%.
Concerning the public sphere, there is a moderate sense of community and high levels of civic participation in Türkiye, where 85% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, less than the OECD average of 91%. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 86% during recent elections, higher than the OECD average of 69%, and reflects the practice of compulsory voting in Türkiye. Social and economic status can affect voting rates; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 87% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 84%.
When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Turks gave it a 4.9 grade on average, lower than the OECD average of 6.7.
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OECD Economic Surveys: Turkey
OECD’s periodic surveys of the Turkish economy. Each edition surveys the major challenges faced by the country, evaluates the short-term outlook, and makes specific policy recommendations. Special chapters take a more detailed look at specific challenges. Extensive statistical information is included in charts and graphs.Read this report
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Türkiye in Detail
Housing – Türkiye expand
Living in satisfactory housing conditions is one of the most important aspects of people's lives. Housing is essential to meet basic needs, such as shelter, but it is not just a question of four walls and a roof. Housing should offer a place to sleep and rest where people feel safe and have privacy and personal space; somewhere they can raise a family. All of these elements help make a house a home. And of course there is the question whether people can afford adequate housing.
Housing costs take up a large share of the household budget and represent the largest single expenditure for many individuals and families, by the time you add up elements such as rent, gas, electricity, water, furniture or repairs. In Türkiye, households on average spend 19% of their gross adjusted disposable income on keeping a roof over their heads, less than the OECD average of 20%.
In addition to housing costs it is also important to examine living conditions, such as the average number of rooms shared per person and whether households have access to basic facilities. The number of rooms in a dwelling, divided by the number of persons living there, indicates whether residents are living in crowded conditions. Overcrowded housing may have a negative impact on physical and mental health, relations with others and children's development. In addition, dense living conditions are often a sign of inadequate water and sewage supply. In Türkiye, the average home contains 1 room per person, less than the OECD average of 1.7 rooms per person and one of the lowest rates in the OECD. In terms of basic facilities, 95.1% of dwellings in Türkiye contain private access to an indoor flushing toilet, less than the OECD average of 97.
More ResourcesHow's Life?: Measuring Well-being
Income – Türkiye expand
While money may not buy happiness, it is an important means to achieving higher living standards and thus greater well-being. Higher economic wealth may also improve access to quality education, health care and housing.
Household net adjusted disposable income is the amount of money that a household earns each year after taxes and transfers. It represents the money available to a household for spending on goods or services. In Turkey, the average household net adjusted disposable income per capita is lower than the OECD average of USD 30 490.
Household net wealth is the total value of a household’s financial and non-financial worth, such as money or shares held in bank accounts, the principal residence, other real estate properties, vehicles, valuables and other non-financial assets (e.g other consumer durables). In Türkiye, the average household net wealth is considerably lower than the OECD average of USD 323 960.
Better Policies for Better Lives
Reduction in inequality
Türkiye is one of the few OECD countries where inequality of household disposable incomes declined in the 2000s, even if some of the progress achieved was reversed following the onset of the global crisis. Income inequality fell faster in Turkey than in any other OECD country between the mid-1990s and 2011. Also "direct poverty" – defined as lack of access to basic nutrition, clothing and heating – declined from 29% in 2006 to 21% in 2010.
More ResourcesHow's Life?: Measuring Well-being
Jobs – Türkiye expand
Having a job brings many important benefits, including: providing a source of income, improving social inclusion, fulfilling one's own aspirations, building self-esteem and developing skills and competencies. In Türkiye, about 48% of the working-age population aged 15 to 64 has a paid job. This figure is much lower than the OECD employment average of 66%, and is the lowest rate in the OECD.
Unemployed persons are defined as those who are not currently working but are willing to do so and actively searching for work. Long-term unemployment can have a large negative effect on feelings of well-being and self-worth and result in a loss of skills, further reducing employability. In Türkiye, the percentage of the labour force that has been unemployed for a year or longer is currently at 3.3%, much higher than the OECD average of 1.3%.
The wages and other monetary benefits that come with employment are an important aspect of job quality. Turkish people earn per year on average much less than the OECD average of USD 49 165.
Another essential factor of employment quality is job security, in terms of expected loss of earnings when someone becomes unemployed. This includes how likely you are to lose your job, how long you are likely to remain unemployed and how much financial assistance you can expect from government. Workers facing a high risk of job loss are more vulnerable, especially in countries with smaller social safety nets. In Türkiye, workers face an expected 13% loss of earnings if they become unemployed, much higher than the OECD average of 5.1% and one of the highest in the OECD.
Better Policies for Better Lives
Women's participation in the labour market
Government subsidies for hiring female and younger workers, coupled with the increased need of families to secure second earner incomes in the global crisis, increased labour market participation among aged 25-54-year-old women from 29.3% in 2008 to 37.3% in 2012.
Traditionally, women have had very low labour force participation rates in Türkiye, reflecting shortcomings in human capital as 78% of the female working age population have less than high school education, 58% have primary education or less and 17% are illiterate.
However, between 2005 and 2012, female participation and employment in urban areas both increased by over 50%. About half of the increase in urban female employment was achieved by university-educated women, reflecting an increase in female higher education. Employment rates also improved for women with high school education and, more drastically, for women with less than high school education, whose participation rate rose from 11.7% in 2008 to 16% in 2012. Female employment increased more rapidly in services. Nevertheless, the expansion of manufacturing jobs has also been an important driver for women with less than high-school education.
More ResourcesHow's Life?: Measuring Well-being OECD Job Quality Database
Community – Türkiye expand
Humans are social creatures. The frequency of our contact with others and the quality of our personal relationships are thus crucial determinants of our well-being.
A strong social network, or community, can provide emotional support during both good and bad times as well as provide access to jobs, services and other material opportunities. In Türkiye, 85% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in a time of need, less than the OECD average of 91%.
A weak social network can result in limited economic opportunities, a lack of contact with others, and eventually, feelings of isolation. Socially isolated individuals face difficulties integrating into society as a contributing member and fulfilling personal aspirations.
More ResourcesHow's Life?: Measuring Well-being OECD Insights: Human Capital
Education – Türkiye expand
A well-educated and well-trained population is essential for a country's social and economic well-being. Education plays a key role in providing individuals with the knowledge, skills and competences needed to participate effectively in society and in the economy. Having a good education greatly improves the likelihood of finding a job and earning enough money. Turkish people can expect to go through 18.7 years of education between the ages of 5 and 39, slightly more than the OECD average of 18 years.
Graduating from upper secondary education has become increasingly important in all countries, as the skills needed in the labour market are becoming more knowledge-based. High-school graduation rates therefore provide a good indication of whether a country is preparing its students to meet the minimum requirements of the job market. In Türkiye, 42% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, much lower than the OECD average of 79% and one of the lowest rates in the OECD.
But graduation rates, while important, speak little to the quality of education received. The OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) reviews the extent to which students have acquired some of the knowledge and skills that are essential for full participation in modern societies. In 2018, PISA focused on examining students' reading ability, skills in maths and level in sciences, as research shows that these skills are more reliable predictors of economic and social well-being than the number of years spent in school.
The average student in Türkiye scored 462 in reading literacy, maths and sciences, below the OECD average of 488. The best-performing school systems manage to provide high-quality education to all students.
Better Policies for Better Lives
Improving equality in PISA scores
Türkiye’s performance in mathematics, reading and science has improved markedly since it first participated in PISA in 2003 when Turkey was among the lowest-performing OECD countries. For example, the average maths score rose from 423 points in 2003 to 448 points in 2012 – an improvement equivalent to more than half a year of schooling.
Much of this improvement was concentrated among students with the greatest socioeconomic and educational needs. The initial driving force behind these improvements was the Basic Education Programme (BEP), launched in 1998, which included a compulsory education law. Since the launch of this programme, the attendance rate among primary students increased from around 85% to nearly 100%, while the attendance rate in pre-primary programmes increased from 10% to 25%.
Several projects implemented over the past decade have also addressed equity issues. These include, the Girls to Schools Now campaign, that aims to ensure that all girls aged 6 to 14 attend primary school; a registry to identify non-schooled children; the Education with Transport programme, which benefits students who have no access to school; and the Complementary Transitional Training Programme, which tries to ensure that 10-14 year-olds acquire a basic education even if they have never been enrolled in a school or if they had dropped out of school.
Technological advances in education
Students in Türkiye can expect to have fully computerised classes by 2017. Launched in 2010, the FATIH Project will equip 42 000 schools and 570 000 classes with the latest education technologies. Examples include tablet computers, interactive whiteboards and high speed internet. To make full use of these changes, 800 000 teachers will receive in-service training about the educational usage of these technologies and e-content will be developed for each course.
By September 2014 the FATIH Project had already provided 732 800 tablet computers, 432 288 interactive whiteboards, 45 653 printers and document cameras, and high speed internet infrastructure to 3 362 schools. So far 105 000 teachers have received in-service training and various educational resources are accessible through a new e-content web portal (www.eba.gov.tr). Once implementation is complete the FATIH project will undergo an evaluation of student and teacher satisfaction as well as the usage of the new education technologies.
More ResourcesHow's Life?: Measuring Well-being
Environment – Türkiye expand
The quality of our local living environment has a direct impact on our health and well-being. Outdoor air pollution is one important environmental issue that directly affects the quality of people's lives. Despite national and international interventions and decreases in major pollutant emissions, the health impacts of urban air pollution continue to worsen, with air pollution set to become the top environmental cause of premature mortality globally by 2050. Air pollution in urban centres, often caused by transport and the use of small-scale burning of wood or coal, is linked to a range of health problems, from minor eye irritation to upper respiratory symptoms in the short-term and chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer in the long-term. Children and the elderly may be particularly vulnerable.
PM2.5 – tiny particulate matter small enough to be inhaled into the deepest part of the lung – is monitored in OECD countries because it can harm human health and reduce life expectancy. In Türkiye, PM2.5 levels are 27.1 micrograms per cubic meter, one of the highest levels in the OECD, where the average is 14 micrograms per cubic meter andhigher than the annual guideline limit of 10 micrograms per cubic meter set by the World Health Organization.
Access to clean water is fundamental to human well-being. Despite significant progress in OECD countries in reducing water pollution, improvements in freshwater quality are not always easy to discern. In Türkiye, only 62% of people say they are satisfied with water quality, much lower than the OECD average of 84%.
Better Policies for Better Lives
Under sea rail tunnel to combat air pollution in Istanbul
Istanbul's growing traffic jams are not just a city transport headache, they also result in high levels of air pollution from vehicle exhausts. To reduce local air pollution, traffic congestion and energy consumption, the Istanbul municipality has launched a number of urban public transport projects. For example, the 8 km subway line which opened in 2000 is being extended, as are the light rail (Hafif-Metro) and tramway systems.
Istanbul has implemented one of the worlds' major transport infrastructure projects, upgrading 63 km of the commuter rail system and building a 13 km rail crossing under the Istanbul Strait (Bosphorus). In addition to reducing congestion, the Marmaray project is expected to improve air quality by reducing vehicle traffic on the two existing bridges that span the Bosphorus. However, to reap maximum environmental benefit from the Marmaray project, complementary actions should be undertaken such as active traffic management on bridge crossings and tight controls on parking.
More ResourcesHow's Life?: Measuring Well-being OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050
Governance – Türkiye expand
Trust in government is essential for social cohesion and well-being. High voter turnout is a measure of citizens' participation in the political process. In the most recent elections for which data are available, voter turnout in Türkiye was 86% of those registered. This figure is much higher than the OECD average of 69%, and reflects the practice of compulsory voting in Türkiye.
Broader public engagement in the decision-making process is also important for holding the government to account and maintaining confidence in public institutions. The formal process for public engagement in developing laws and regulations is one way to measure the extent to which people can become involved in government decisions on key issues that affect their lives. In Türkiye, the level of stakeholder engagement in developing regulations is 1.5 (on a scale between 0 and 4); lower than the OECD average of 2.1.
Health – Türkiye expand
Most OECD countries have enjoyed large gains in life expectancy over the past decades, thanks to improvements in living conditions, public health interventions and progress in medical care. Among OECD countries, Türkiye registered one of the greatest gains in life expectancy between 1960 and 2008, with an overall increase in longevity of 25 years, rapidly narrowing the gap with the average across OECD countries. Life expectancy at birth in Türkiye stands at almost 79 years, two years below the OECD average of 81 years. Higher life expectancy is generally associated with higher health care spending per person, although many other factors have an impact on life expectancy (such as living standards, lifestyles, education and environmental factors).
When asked "How is your health in general?" almost 67% of people in Türkiye reported to be in good health, just below the OECD average of 68%. Despite the subjective nature of this question, answers have been found to be a good predictor of people's future health care use. Gender, age and social status may affect answers to this question.
Life Satisfaction – Türkiye expand
Happiness or subjective well-being can be measured in terms of life satisfaction, the presence of positive experiences and feelings, and the absence of negative experiences and feelings. Such measures, while subjective, are a useful complement to objective data to compare the quality of life across countries.
Life satisfaction measures how people evaluate their life as a whole rather than their current feelings. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Turkish people on average gave it a 4.9 grade, much lower than the OECD average of 6.7, and one of the lowest satisfaction grades in the OECD.
Safety – Türkiye expand
Personal security is a core element for the well-being of individuals. Do you feel safe out walking, alone at night, for example? In Türkiye, 59% of people say that they feel safe walking alone at night, less than the OECD average of 74%.
The homicide rate (the number of murders per 100 000 inhabitants) is a more reliable measure of a country's safety level because, unlike other crimes, murders are usually always reported to the police. According to the latest OECD data, Türkiye's homicide rate is 1, lower than the OECD average of 2.6.
Work-Life Balance – Türkiye expand
Finding a suitable balance between work and life is a challenge for all workers, especially working parents. The ability to successfully combine work, family commitments and personal life is important for the well-being of all members in a household. Governments can help to address the issue by encouraging supportive and flexible working practices, making it easier for parents to strike a better balance between work and home life.
An important aspect of work-life balance is the amount of time a person spends at work. Evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardise safety and increase stress. In Türkiye, however, some 25% of employees work very long hours in paid work, one of the highest rates in the OECD, where the average is 10%. However, this represents a sizeable fall since 2011, when almost 46% of worked over 50 hours per week.
The more people work, the less time they have to spend on other activities, such as time with others, leisure activities, eating or sleeping. The amount and quality of leisure time is important for people's overall well-being, and can bring additional physical and mental health benefits. In Türkiye, full-time workers devote 61% of their day on average, or 14.6 hours, to personal care (eating, sleeping, etc.) and leisure (socialising with friends and family, hobbies, games, computer and television use, etc.) – less than the OECD average of 15 hours.
Better Policies for Better Lives
Increasing efficiency and facilitating teleworking
The municipality of Yalova has introduced an integrated electronic document system called ZAMBAK to improve public service efficiency. Under this new system workflows and related documents or projects can be uploaded to digital archives. Work has also become more traceable helping managers better monitor performance measures. This has increased the opportunity for teleworking allowing nearly 70% of public service employees to work remotely when necessary. ZAMBAK has also decreased space dependence making it easier and cheaper for the municipality to manage work spaces. Yalova city is currently sharing lessons learned with other municipalities and employers across Turkey to help increase efficiencies.