Turks do not trust each other
I just saw a graph in OECD’s “How’s Life” showing that Turkey is the weakest among a number of countries in terms of social connections. The data comes from a Gallup World Poll. It shows the percentage of people who can count on someone to borrow money from at the last minute, like a relative or a friend. Turkey is the lowest, followed by Mexico and Greece. The highest is Iceland. The share of respondents saying that they have no relatives or friends to turn to in times of need is four times higher in Turkey than it is in Iceland and Ireland. But why? The findings are not intuitive. The presumption in Turkey is always that we might not be rich, smart or skilled, but we have strong family and friendship ties. Not so much, when compared to other OECD countries. That is bad.
I remember Mübeccel Kıray’s sociological studies showed that old family ties were being dismantled in the 1970s and 1980s. So it was correct. It is all related to internal migration. In the early 1960s, 30 percent of Turks were living in urban areas. That number has reached 75 percent today. When they come to the cities, at least 30 percent are all alone. 30 percent of the Turkish respondents claim that they have no one to turn to in times of need. It seems that we dismantle old relationships but are not very good in establishing new ones. This is despite the new religious networks that are arising as a response to this urban loneliness in the country. The whole thing definitely requires more analysis.
Social networks have value. Just as a country needs physical and human capital, so it needs to have social capital. That is about goodwill, friendship, trust, things that give meaning to your activities and contribute to your productivity. Could it be because of the lack of social capital that we do not have many old and strong corporations in the country? If there is no trust and no goodwill among the partners, than it is not possible to have strong and long lasting partnerships. If you stay small and have no partners, it’s just you to manage the business. Sounds good? I do not think so. If partnership with others is hard, that leaves you only with a large network of family companies. That is not bad of course, but it isn’t that good either when it comes to the diversity of the talent pool. A smaller talent pool restricts the growth potential of your company. This is especially true in this new world of startups. No wonder Turkey has a problem with them. Could there be a Turkish element in the initial stage that we have to consider? I just do not know.
I have to confess that I was surprised to see that Turks have the weakest links in terms of social capital. Turks apparently do not trust each other. That is contrary to my expectations. Maybe the survey is wrong. Maybe it only covers large urban centers but not the provinces. Let me look at it again.