Examination of the Transitions of Households into and out of Poverty in Turkey

Ayşenur Acar and Cem Başlevent


Using a balanced panel drawn from Turkstat’s Survey of Income and Living Conditions  (SILC), we aim to identify the main determinants of Turkish households’ entry into and exit from poverty. During the 4 year period (2007-2010) examined, the relative income poverty rate declined moderately, implying that households were more likely to exit than enter poverty. In addition to a descriptive analysis where poor, non-poor, entrant, and exitor households are compared in terms of basic household and household head characteristics, the empirical work involves the estimation of binary choice models that analyze the relative importance of these factors. Our models reveal that the employment status and schooling of the household head and household size are closely associated with poverty status changes. The probability of entry into poverty, for instance, is higher for larger households with many inactive/dependent members. However, model specifications that produce the best fit are the ones that take into account the changes in household composition and the amounts of income types received.

pdf. WorkingPaper#015

The Dynamics of Multidimensional Poverty in Turkey

Ayşenur Acar


Over the past 20 years, poverty has conceived as a multidimensional issue, not only one-dimensional issue based on conventional indicators (i.e., income or expenditure). While a relatively huge literature has focused on the dynamic analysis of one-dimensional poverty, little attention has been given to the dynamics of multidimensional poverty. Using a panel data drawn from the Survey of Income and Living Conditions (SILC) in the years 2007-2010, this study focuses on the dynamics of multidimensional poverty in Turkey. The purposes of the study are twofold: the first is to identify “poor” in Turkey by proposing a multidimensional poverty measure that incorporates various dimensions closely related to the well-being of individuals (such as labor market, housing, health and living standards), and the second is to investigate how the new measure differs from other existing poverty measures (i.e., income poverty and EU material deprivation) by using random effect probit model. The findings show that the new measure is partially consistent with the other measures and multidimensional poverty decreased during the period under examination. Empirical work reveals that higher years of schooling, homeownership or being a rental/asset income recipient decreases the probability of being multidimensionally poor, while large household size, attachment to agricultural employment or being a social welfare income recipient increases the probability of being multidimensionally poor.

pdf. WorkingPaper#014


Francisco L. Rivera-Batiz and Mine Durmaz

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) studies the extent to which 15-year-old students have acquired key knowledge and skills in reading, mathematics, science and problem solving. PISA test scores reflect not only what the students have learned but also how well they can apply that knowledge. The results of PISA for Turkey show a significant improvement in average test scores over time. In Mathematics, Turkey’s average test score rose from 423 in 2003 to 448 in 2012, the highest increase for any country sampled in this period except Brazil.

Because Turkey has had a period of sustained growth in per-capita income since 2002, the gains in tests scores in the country could simply be a reflection of a pure income effect: with higher family income, students have greater home resources –computers, internet access, encyclopedias, etc.—which allow them to learn more. This study estimates that close to half of the gain in PISA math tests scores between 2003 and 2012 is plainly due to rising family socioeconomic background in the country. However, this also means that the remaining half is connected to other factors that influenced student achievement, including school-related reforms. The most important of these are: improvements in the quantity and quality of schools serving low-income families and those in less-populated areas, improved enrollment and achievement of girls, and rising teacher quality as reflected, for example, in growing teacher expectations in the classroom. At the same time, the study identifies some factors that acted to reduce tests scores between 2003 and 2012: greater student absenteeism (as identified by school principals), which suggests declining student motivation in schools, and rising overage, that is, the presence of older students in any given grade.

doc. ResearchBrief174

pdf. ResearchBrief174



Seyfettin Gürsel and Mine Durmaz

Our second research brief studying the problem of informality focuses on regional disparities. There are large differences in regional rates of informal employment. According to 2013 data, while the country’s informality rate of 37 percent is soaring to 70 percent in Southeast region, it recorded about 16 percent in Ankara and Istanbul. The rate of informality for wage earners, which is reported as 20 percent overall, is more than 40 percent in Southeast region and ranges between 10 and 16 percent in highly industrialized western regions. In addition, significant decrease in overall informality at country level in the period 2005-2013 has been unequal through regions. While the overall informality rate decreased by 38 percent, it has been reduced by more than half in western regions. Correspondingly, decreases are more limited in other regions, but also in some regions informality increased.

The main force behind regional disparities in terms of informality is regional differences in structural determinants of informality such as average level of education, average firm size, or sectoral distribution of employment- that affect the level of informal employment. In last eight years, this unequal improvement in informality across regions arises from unequal regional changes in these structural determinants.

doc. ResearchBrief172

pdf. ResearchBrief172

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