Is Turkey a Developed Country?

Societies aim to achieve high living standards from old ages to provide better conditions to their communities. In order to achieve this goal, experts try to increase economic prosperity by using resources more efficiently and aiming to increase production. However, the economy is not the only factor for determining the development of the level of societies; social and cultural factors are also important.

Turkey counts among developing countries. I will try to explain why Turkey is taking place among developing countries in considering economic, social, and cultural conditions in this article. Social and economic conditions both should take into consideration for extrapolating whether a country is developed or not. Economic development is directly related to a community’s quality of living, however, we have to look at the development levels of each important province that are settlements of a country. This kind of examination will provide better results to reach a solution.

Through the information that reached by different types of surveys, while Turkey’s economic, social, technological, and industrial processes are discussed, also current topics that the framework of rights are going to examine.

Turkey’s Economic Indicators

Turkey struggles with more effective economic crises from the foundation of the Republic which leads the economy is being unsteady. In considering the changing policies of Turkey’s unsteady economy, examining the period before and after 1980 will give more rational results. However, a connection can be made between the increase in domestic and foreign debts and economic instability in general.

Foundation Years of the Republic

The Treaty of Lausanne that was accomplished by the Turkish Grand National Assembly provided abolition of capitulations. Turkey became more arbiter of its own economy and use resources more efficiently. However, the newly established State of Turkey had to pay Ottoman Empire’s 62.5% debt in accordance with the signed trade treaty. All debts were liquidated long last 1954. Although the law and practices adopted in the economy brought about significant improvements in the economic position of Turkey, the debt that comes from the Lausanne Treaty put Turkey in a torrid time.

The Period Between 1930-1950

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, during a factory opening in 1930s.

Turkey tries to escape the possible long-term debt in this period. In considering previous conditions of the II. World War and current circumstances of Turkey, it has been a period of fluctuations in external debt.

The Period Between 1950-1960

During this period, external debt increased 4 times and inflation climbed. The economic crisis that occurred, for this reason, led the country to a military coup d’état on May 27.

The Period Between 1960-1980

This period is a process in which planned progress is aimed. Although the targets within the framework of the First Five-Year Development Plan were met to a great extent, external dependency could not be reduced sufficiently. While Turkey tries to get rid of the debt, eventually it has come under more of them. The expected growth rate in the industry is reached with a few differences. However, the effects of the oil crisis on the economy has also been heavy and Turkey was confronted with the biggest crisis in the history of the republic for external debt payments. The economic crisis, political instability, and uncertainty, unfortunately, provided the necessary conditions for September 12.

Post-1980 Period

High inflation brought plenty of zero on the banknotes.

After 1980, the control of the state over the prices in the market was loosened and the transition to the liberal economy was achieved to a large extent. Foreign investments have started to be encouraged. Practices have been initiated to control inflation and export-led growth has been encouraged. However, the high inflation, which undoubtedly became the biggest problem of the period, on the other hand, increasing domestic and foreign debts, the current account deficit problem, and dependence of exports on imports that played an important role in Turkey’s sliding into serious economic crises. While Turkey experienced a severe economic crisis with a huge deadlock,  the economy achieved a recovery period after 2000. Through the new transformation policies applied in politics and foreign trade many experienced positive developments and provided significant improvement in economics.

Place of Turkey Economy in World Ranking

Turkey’s economy is defined by the IMF as emerging market economies and among the newly industrializing countries in the world. According to the predicted estimates of dollar purchasing power per person made by IMF for 2020, Turkey ranked 13th. Also ranked 13th in the World Bank’s 2018 list.

Turkey counts as a foremost manufacturer in terms of agriculture, textile industry, building materials, motor vehicles, and lines of business such as white goods. At the same time, the private sector comes to a height even though the state still takes a substantial role in most industries. Nowadays Turkey can count as an industrial society mostly. By the year 2016, Turkey takes its place as the second-largest economy after Indonesia among countries that the population mostly is Muslim.

Agriculture Industry

A tea farm in Rize Province

Turkey’s approximately 1/5 of lands consist of first, second, and third quality is comprised of soil. In addition, 90% of agricultural activities are carried out on these lands. It is very suitable for agriculture due to its climate and soil structure. However, a proportional reduction of workers engaged in agriculture is an indication that Turkey is a developing country in terms of industry.

Industrial Sector

TUPRAŞ Oil Rafinery in İzmit

In the first years of the Republic, priority was given to sugar, cotton, coal, and iron production, and as a result, 4 sugar factories were opened in the first 10 years of the Republic. Under the Democratic Party rule, with the Marshall Plan, mechanization in agriculture accelerated and the production process shifted from industry to agriculture and the private sector again. With the establishment of the State Planning Organization in the 1960s, industrialization gained momentum again, but the results obtained were short-term.

However, Turkey did not show a great improvement in terms of industry as in Japan, South Korea or Italy, and Spain. As a result of the lack of importance that is shown by ruling political power to the industry, low level and quality of education, problems such as the lack of participation of women in the business life, the GDP of Turkey’s industrial political power has dropped to 27 in 2013%, while 34% in the late 1980s.

Defense Industry

Turkey has advanced defense industry productivity. For example, in 2014, it exported 1.6 billion dollars worth of exports. ASELSAN, HAVELSAN, TUSAŞ count among essential producers. It has started the construction of new military and intelligence satellites such as reconnaissance satellites.

Iron and Steel Sector

Turkey ranks 8th among the countries in steel production. Total steel production reached 29 million tons in 2013. Turkey’s crude steel production in 2011 reached a record level of 34.1 million tons.

Science and Technology

TUBITAK National Observatory in Antalya

Working in the field of science and technology in Turkey is generally dominated by the leadership of TUBITAK. Although research and development have increased in recent years in a general sense, we can see not given the necessary importance to the development of science and technology in Turkey. Considering that the budget allocated to both science and technology stays insufficient and also the balance of power in TUBITAK within itself, we can say that Turkey is lagging behind in these matters.

Human Development Index: Turkey

Turkey ranked 54 out of 184 countries according to the UNDP’s 2020 Human Development Index. According to the data of the last 29 years, Turkey showed an improvement of 40.7%. The Human Development Index, prepared with the help of the information obtained from the official statistical institutions of the countries and reliable international institutions, consists of the analysis of the average human development level in three basic dimensions such as long and healthy life, access to information and an acceptable standard of living.

Between the years 1990-2019, life expectancy in Turkey amounted to 78 and increased by approximately 13 years. However, it is seen that it falls behind in the index where inequality is taken into account in the distribution of human development. The report also includes the Gender Inequality Index, which includes findings on gender-based inequalities in the areas of reproductive health, women’s empowerment, and economic activities.

Gender Inequalities in Turkey

Women’s and men’s responsibilities as determined by society, based on the existence of gender inequality is one of the issues that Turkey has failed. It is about women going through more unfair processes in society and being in a more unequal position compared to other members of society. Because of gender inequality, women are left less healthy, have less education, and participate in the workforce less often. When participating in the workforce, women are paid lower than their male counterparts.

According to the Global Gender Gap Index for 2020, Turkey ranks 130 out of 163 countries. In the same report, when economic participation and opportunity are examined Turkey ranks at 136.

The treatment of women as second-class citizens in society has been triggered by increasing unemployment in recent years. During the period of COVID, which went through difficult processes in general, the fact that women and their spouses were together in the same house due to the prohibitions caused an increase in women’s invisible domestic labor. In addition, while the Istanbul Convention is a law that protects women and children from all kinds of violence, especially domestic and family violence, the demand for abolition by the ruling party has increased the violence.

While protests such as March 8 and Pride Weeks are tried to be banned every year. Turkish society also failed to respect gender identity and sexual orientation. Hate crimes and hate speech have increased in recent years, and besides, the policies of the government to isolate women, children, and victims of violence and abuse, in general, are discussed.

Human Rights

Although Turkey is a country known for its hospitality in the world, it is slowly losing this feature in itself. Workers work hard conditions for low wages and there are times when they cannot get their extra shift. In general terms, it is hard to criticize some parts of society because of the fear of being brought to justice. According to the Human Development Report, Turkey ranks 54 out of 184, eventhough it is not a bad place, it has to figure out its own problem. Even though Turkey is a democratic country, some sort of actions do not look good on it.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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