News / Europe

Turkey Readies Incentives to Halt Falling Birth Rate

People walk along a main shopping street of Istiklal in Istanbul, Turkey, July 11, 2012.
People walk along a main shopping street of Istiklal in Istanbul, Turkey, July 11, 2012.
Reuters
Turkey plans to offer incentives including free fertility treatment to try to reverse a slowing birth rate after official figures showed the median age of its population has crept above 30 for the first time.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan wants Turkey, a nation of more than 75 million people, to be among the world's top 10 economies by 2023 when the Turkish Republic turns 100 years old.

Per capita income has trebled during his decade in power.

But the government fears that an aging population could eventually lead Turkey down the same path as more developed economies in Europe, towards a shrinking workforce and rising welfare spending.
    
A greying nation also sits uneasily with Turkey's self-image as a virile and dynamic nation, eager to take a more prominent role on the world stage.

A religious and social conservative, Erdogan has for years publicly advocated families having at least three children, and more recently has suggested having five.

But since he came to power, the country's fertility rate, the ratio of births to the number of women of childbearing age, has fallen below the 2.1 needed to replenish its population, sinking to 2.02 in 2011.

This week, Turkey's statistics bureau (TUIK) released data showing the median age has risen above 30 for the first time, to 30.1, up from 29.7 in 2011. Population growth slowed from 1.35 percent in 2011 to 1.2 percent last year.

No sooner was the data released than the country's development and finance ministers announced they were working on incentives to try to reverse the trend.

Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, who oversees the economy, said Erdogan had instructed him to lead the efforts, which would require "implementation of very rational measures'' so as not to upset the budget balance.
    
While none of the ministers gave specific details, Development Minister Cevdet Yilmaz said Turkey needed to move closer into line with Europe, where some parents receive child benefit payments and tax deductions.
    
Turkey's labor minister said over the weekend the government was also looking at extending maternity leave from four to six months.
    
The family and social policies minister announced late last year a project to provide fertility treatment to 2,500 families who currently had no children and were not eligible for state health insurance.

Rejects abortion as "murder"

While the incentives will be welcomed by many parents-to-be, some may see the government's moves as further evidence of an increasingly authoritarian state.
    
Often brusque in manner, Erdogan sometimes comes across as a stern father figure, lecturing on the dangers of alcohol and cigarettes and rousing resentment among some who see him as intruding on their lifestyles.
    
He sparked outrage last year by attacking abortion as a secret plot to stall Turkey's economic growth, calling it "murder'', and has hit out at Turkey's high caesarean birth rate, saying the procedure limited population growth because mothers who used it could be advised to have no more than two children.

Abortion has been legal in Turkey since 1983, but only 10 percent of pregnancies are terminated through abortion, a far lower rate than the 30 percent in Europe. Turkey suffers the highest infant mortality rate in the OECD, although this gets little mention in public debate.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

ILO: Women Still Losing Out in Global Work Place

International Labor Organization says women are marginally better off now than they were 20 years ago More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More