Have a child, drop your welfare level
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, even since his days as prime minister, has advised everybody to have three children. In fact, he has updated his target in recent wedding ceremonies he has attended, now demanding four children from parents.
In compliance with Erdoğan’s recommendations, the government has introduced several economic measures encouraging families to have more children.
But none of them have worked.
According to figures provided by the Turkish Statistical Institution (TÜİK), in 2000 the number of births per woman was 2.53. This figure today is 1.96. In other words, we are not at replacement rate.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has based his wish for three or four children on the fact that Turkey’s population is aging. Yes, in 2000 our age median was 25.8; today it is 31.1. We are getting older with each passing year.
While figures for new born babies are decreasing every year, the number of deaths is also decreasing. In other words, on one hand we are having fewer children and on the other hand our lives are getting longer. In 2000, when our population was 64 million, nearly 1,400,000 children were born in Turkey and 466,000 people died. In 2014, our population had climbed to 77 million, but less than 1,300,000 babies were born and 422,000 people died.
In 2000, the share of the population over the age of 65 was 6.7 percent. This figure is now 8.1 percent.
So why do we not make as many children as we used to?
We have to consider many factors to answer this question. One of them is the decrease in infant deaths in connection to developments in our country’s health system. While in 2000 the infant mortality rate was 31.6 per 1,000, today it is 11 per 1,000.
The second important factor is urbanization. Today, 80 percent of the population live in cities and towns - a huge rise in recent decades.
The third factor is the rising importance of welfare and family planning. This is related to urbanization, and there are many statistics about poverty in Turkey supporting this.
According to the results of TÜİK’s 2014 household income survey, the 15.5 million individuals within the richest 20 percent slice of the population in our country have a monthly average income of 2,785 Turkish Liras.
Imagine for yourself: You work hard for years and finally reach the net monthly income of 3,000 liras. When you decide to get married, if your spouse also earns 3,000 liras, then there is no problem. You would be able to the same welfare level.
Let’s say you have a child. Either you or your spouse decide to quit your job in order to take care of the child. At that moment, the welfare level of all members of the family drops two steps from the richest 20 percent of the population to the third slice.
Would you have a child under these circumstances? If you had one child, would you have a second one?