Why Turkey is so predominantly urban, male and western
The Turkish Statistical Institution released a survey late last year showing the country’s internet population is predominantly urban, male and western. 51% of the population has no access to the net.
For women, this increases to 61%. Go to the east of Ankara and that number rises to around 70%. As you move from Istanbul down to the country’s south-eastern corner of Hakkari, connectivity to the internet declines. It overlaps nicely with national export figures, especially with those to the more sophisticated European market. The Customs Union with the EU is also predominantly an urban, male and western preoccupation. Let’s get into some detail.
In the case of the export business, Turkey’s industrial hubs are around organized industrial estates (OIE) established in urban centers. When asked whether Italy has OIEs, an Italian friend of mine noted years ago, “All of Italy is an OIE.” Turkey is not. The government cannot provide public services at a consistent level of quality and intensity in Turkey, so we need pockets of excellence, as in the case of OIEs. OIEs are always in urban areas. Access to labor, I presume. Turkish exports, in turn, are OIE based. So exports are urban, as is the case with the internet population.
Secondly, Turkish exports can be safely assumed to be male-dominated. The female labor force participation (FLFP) rate is still trying to consolidate the 30% threshold, the OECD’s lowest. It is increasing due to the spread of shopping malls all around the Anatolian plateau recently, so the service sector is more female. The manufacturing industry is male-dominated without any doubt whatsoever.
With Turkish exports making up 90% of it is manufacturing industry products, we can safely say the country’s exports are male-dominated, just like its internet population.
Thirdly, as in the case of its internet users, Turkish exports are basically western. There are two patterns that catch the eye there. The first is the western provinces are more equal when it comes to access to the most wealthy market of the world. The Customs Union Agreement with the EU became operational in 1996. It was designed as a temporary mechanism to integrate the Turkish economy to the European one before full membership to the EU. That, I think, has happened only partially. Only the western provinces of Turkey have joined the European economy so far. Secondly, despite the European crisis, more than half of Turkish exports go to Europe, mostly from western provinces. Why? They are connected to European markets. That is not the case in the East.
If you are more connected to the world through your business ties, you become more open to the World in general. That is how I read the numbers regarding the internet population. The urban, male and western parts of Turkey connect the country to the outside world. This can change in 10 years for women – just wait until the girls of the 8-year compulsory education system come of age.