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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora