Erik Meyersson, a professor at the Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics (SITE), part of Stockholm School of Economics, detailed the effects of the recent increase in the unemployment rate in Turkey in his blog. Prof. Meyersson concluded that the jump hit the skilled workers and women the most and pointed to a shift towards a “know-who” economy rather that a “know how” system; jeopardizing Turkey’s economic prospects.Looking at the details of the recently released employment statistics, Prof. Meyersson reported in his blog post that the increase in unemployment was mostly driven by individuals with higher educational degrees. The professional workers experienced a 3 percent increase in unemployment, compared to a 0.8 percent increase for the illiterate workers and a 0.2 percent for workers with only high school degrees. The highest rate of growth in unemployment, according to Prof. Meyersson, were for workers with vocational degrees.
Women workers were also hit hard by the economic downturn. Prof. Meyersson stated that “the unemployment rate change between 2015 and 2016 among women is twice the magnitude to that for men.” The unemployment rates increased 2.8 percent for women compared to 1.4 percent for men. Educated female workers were again more likely to lose their jobs; unemployment rates for women increased 4.8 percent for workers with vocational degrees and 3.8 percent for those with college degrees. The least affected group of female workers were illiterate with 0.8 percent growth in unemployment.
According to Prof. Meyersson, this disparity is a result of the purge that took place after the July 15th coup attempt and focused more on educated individuals like the teachers, professors, military personnel and the members of the judiciary. These numbers point to a bigger problem as reported by Prof. Meyersson, namely the “ubiquitous two-pronged economic challenges of Turkish policymakers in the labor markets: increasing female employment and reducing a shortage in high-skill work.”
Noting that the ongoing political climate in Turkey is not only destructive to its human rights but also “seriously jeopardizes its economic future and its chances of escaping a middle-income trap,” the Swedish expert warns about the urgency to lower barriers for female workers and to shift the educational priorities towards an “innovation economy.”