Youth Unemployment in Turkey

Youth Unemployment in Turkey

Z. Bilgen Susanlı (Işık University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2008-5.ch010


This book chapter describes the recent trends in youth unemployment in Turkey by taking into account the causes of unemployment, and the job search methods of the unemployed. Analyses reveal interesting insights. First, inactivity among youth remains high despite the steep decline in the NEET rate during the last decade. Across age groups and genders, females aged between 20 and 24 have the highest NEET rates. Second, there is a widening gender unemployment gap which underscores gender differences in access to jobs. Third, unemployment rates increase consistently with the level of education. Fourth, while temporary jobs coming to an end is the most common reason for unemployment reported by males, a substantial share of unemployed females is first-time jobs-seekers. As far as policymaking is concerned, education policies as well as timely and well-designed training and job assistance programs are essential for facilitating the youth's entry into stable employment.
Chapter Preview


Labor market conditions deteriorated in many countries during the global recession. Young people were particularly affected by the economic downturn as it became increasingly difficult for them to find or maintain jobs. This generated a heightened interest from policymakers and researchers with the aim of finding solutions to the problems of the youth in the labor market.

It has been well-documented that unemployment lowers well-being (Clark & Oswald, 1994; Winkelmann & Winkelmann, 1998). In addition to the loss of income, unemployment leads to a fall in well-being as it deprives individuals of all the non-pecuniary benefits that come with employment such as self-confidence and self-esteem. Hence, unemployed people, on average, report lower levels of well-being. Unemployment spells earlier in life may leave scarring effects in the sense that there may be lasting effects of job loss on well-being (Clark, Knabe, & Ratzel, 2011; Knabe & Ratzel, 2011). Experiencing unemployment while young is linked with lower levels of happiness, job satisfaction, wages and health (Bell & Blanchflower, 2010; Gregg & Tominey, 2005), and a higher likelihood of engaging in criminal activities in the future (Fougere, Kramarz, & Pouget, 2009). At the macro level, persistent unemployment causes greater income inequality which undermines the confidence in government and hence leads to social unrest.1

In addition to the reasons mentioned above, the labor market outcomes of the youth have a pivotal role for Turkey considering its demographic transition. It is estimated that Turkey will go through a demographic period called the “Window of Opportunity” between 2000 and 2025. Accordingly, the working-age population is expected to attain its maximum, which will provide favorable conditions for economic growth.2

The youth unemployment rates in Turkey have steadily been higher than the OECD average since 2000. While several studies focused on the subject of youth unemployment in Turkey, the inactivity of the youth measured by the share of youth that is neither in employment nor education and training - the so-called NEET rate - is a much less studied topic. The category of NEETs is of particular importance as Turkey has the highest share of NEETs among OECD countries. As of 2014, the share of NEETs among 15-19 and 20-24-year-olds in Turkey is 21 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

Another salient characteristic of the Turkish labor market is low labor market attachment among women. As of 2014, female labor participation rate in Turkey is 33.6 percent - the lowest among OECD countries. Female labor force participation is typically lower in urban areas due to the predominance of unpaid family work in rural areas. Migration from rural to urban areas is another factor behind the lower participation of females in urban areas as migrant women fail to meet the skill requirements of the jobs in urban labor markets. The labor force participation rate of the female youth is remarkably low - 27.7 percent in 2014. In addition, young women that do participate seem to face difficulties in finding employment. Since the global recession, the gender gap in unemployment rates has widened highlighting the gender differences in access to jobs. As of 2015, the youth unemployment rate in Turkey stands at 18.5 percent with 22.2 percent and 16.5 percent among females and males, respectively (Turkish Statistical Institute [TURKSTAT], 2016).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Labor Market: The market that consists of labor supply, labor demand, and all aspects of the employment relationships.

Informal Employment: Jobs that are not, in law or in practice, in compliance with national labor legislation due to several reasons.

Youth Unemployment: A concept refers to the unemployment of individuals aged 15-24.

Not in Education, Employment or Training: A concept, also known as NEET, that measures the inactivity of the youth. The number of individuals in the NEET group as a percentage of the 15-24-year-old population is called the NEET rate.

Household Labor Force Survey: A national survey administered to households with the aim of collecting information to be used in official labor force statistics.

Labor Force Participation Rate: The labor force as a percent of the non-institutional population.

Labor Force: The sum of employed and unemployed individuals in a given labor market.

Active Labor Market Policies: Government programs with the intention of helping the unemployed find jobs or increasing the earnings capacity of those already employed.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: