One of the main challenges that the Turkish economy faces is high unemployment rates that are persistently high, hovering around 10 percent. Previous research also establishes that the labor market is becoming increasingly dynamic. Following a discussion on the dynamics of unemployment, we aim to shed light on the structural problems that shape the labor market in Turkey. Among these problems are low skill levels, persistent regional disparities, high informality and an increasing labor force. In the second part of the chapter, we focus on the labor force participation rates of women in Turkey, which are structurally low, yet are on the rise since 2005. Recent studies show that in explaining this rise, the increasing participation rates by education levels are relatively more important than increasing education levels among women. Paradoxically, this increase has transpired under the rule of a government which has a heavily conservative discourse in relation to gender roles and women’s rights. We conclude the chapter by discussing the main challenges to battling high unemployment, which is not expected to decrease substantially in the near future.
Low female labor force participation rates in Turkey is a well-documented structural problem of the labor market, with stark repercussions for gender equality. Most research focuses on women with relatively low levels of education, and identifies low wages, unfavorable labor market conditions, and lack of affordable childcare as major obstacles to labor market participation. We focus on women with relatively higher education levels for whom most of the aforementioned obstacles are irrelevant. Our research demonstrates that the labor force participation decisions are heavily shaped by gender roles, which assign the role of homemaker to women regardless of their education levels. Our findings imply that both obstacles to and gains from labor market participation are shaped by gender roles and practices. Therefore, policies designed to increase female labor force participation such as providing affordable and high quality childcare, and offering more flexible forms of work, should be designed with a long-term perspective that aims to foster egalitarian gender roles to tackle gender gaps in other labor market outcomes such as in wages and promotion.
We aim to scrutinize the main dynamics of Turkish labor market that exhibits sizable changes in terms of labor force and employment across sub periods in the aftermath of 2001 crisis which imposed profound institutional reforms. While the overall and non-farm unemployment rates decreased slightly until the Great Recession they declined back to their 2005 levels only in 2014, at which point we witnessed another bout of increase of unemployment; the non-farm unemployment reached 13 percent in 2016 and it evolves around 14 percent currently. The dynamics behind this rise are driven by sustained economic growth and the soaring female labor force participation rates. Unfortunately, both the gender gap in unemployment rates and youth unemployment rates ascended during this period. Furthermore, given the current macroeconomic setting in Turkey, a comparable growth performance is unlikely to last into the years ahead.
İşsizlikte cinsiyet farklılaşması: Yüksek kadın işsizliğinin kaynakları (Gender differences in unemployment: The sources of high female unemployment) In N. Engin, E. Aslanoğlu, O. Erdoğan, B.C. Karahasan and K. Tata (Eds.), “Türkiye Ekonomisinde Kalkınma ve Dönüşüm” (Development and transformation in the Turkish economy), İmge Kitabevi, ISBN: 978-975-533-920-7 (pp.287-314).
Gürsel Seyfettin and Uysal Gokce (2018)