Growth, but at what cost?
At 4.4 percent annually, third quarter Turkish growth, which was released on December 10, came in higher than expectations of 4.1 percent.
and economists alike are fixated on the quantity, but not the quality of
growth. There has been some emphasis on the latter of late, but that boils down
to whether growth is driven by domestic demand or exports. Which makes me
wonder: Are we ignoring the really important questions on growth?
United Nations Development Programme’s annual Human Development
Report is best known for its Human Development
Index, a composite statistic of life expectancy, education and
income that is used to rank countries. Turkey was 90th in the latest iteration
of the index. The report itself looks at development through a main theme.
theme was “economic growth and human development” in 1996. The
report outlined five different types
of growth that would be negative for human development: Jobless,
rootless, ruthless, voiceless and futureless.
growth does not create new employment opportunities. As I explained in my November 15 column, one of
the enigmas of the Turkish economy in the last few years has been employment
gains that were stronger than the growth figures would suggest. I do not think
this trend will continue, but for now, Turkish growth is definitely not
growth only benefits the rich. The decrease in poverty rates, which fell
sharply in the early years of the Justice and Development Party, seems to have slowed
down. As for inequality, there has been some improvement, but
as I explained in my April 15 column, the
largest gains have been made by the middle classes, not the poor.
growth comes at the expense of cultural or minority identity. While minorities
have not had it easy in Turkey since 1915, their
repression does not have much to do with growth. And you don’t see many Turks playing
be deceived by journalist (and deputy) Mustafa Balbay’s release. Turkey is
still the world’s largest
prison for journalists. The country has been ranking in the 80s in different democracy
indices, which label it as a hybrid democracy, during the last
decade. So it is fair to say that Turkish growth is voiceless, i.e. without
improvement in democracy and social inclusion.
but definitely not the least, Turkish growth is futureless, i.e. undermining
future generations by depleting resources and destroying biodiversity. Turkey ranked 109th out of 132 countries in my
alma mater Yale University’s 2012 Environmental Performance Index. I have
stopped looking at Facebook updates of my
world-renowned environmentalist friend Çağan Şekercioğlu because the damned
dams, murdered animals and the like depress me.
But then again, as John Maynard Keynes said, we are all dead in the long run. So why should Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who wants to to cut a canal across Istanbul, or his Orwellian Environment (and Urban Planning) Minister and their cronies care about the environment?