Turkey: Life satisfaction rises though challenges persist

Image of people in Istanbul sitting in evening sunlight

Over the the past decade, Turkey has undergone huge economic and social change. Newly published Eurofound research indicates that this was accompanied by a substantial improvement in people's life satisfaction.

Findings from the Agency's European Quality of Life Survey indicate that over the period 2003 to 2012, Turkish people’s own ratings of their level of life satisfaction rose from 5.6 to 6.6 on a 10-point scale. By 2012, it was closer than ever before to the EU28’s population based average of 7.1. Similarly, average Turkish ratings of happiness increased. 

Growing satisfaction with services 

In contrast to the recession that struck most European countries from 2008 onwards, the Turkish economy boomed between 2003 and 2012. Real GDP per capita increased by 38% and the annual rate of GDP growth was as high as 5.3% in 2003.

Despite recent economic troubles, the period of growth seems to have contributed to an improved provision of services. A universal health service was introduced, education was expanded, and state pensions and social services improved.

Although they were generally dissatisfied with their public services in 2003, Turkish people are now more satisfied than people on average in the EU in regard to their health services and their own, self-assessed health; reported access to health services has also improved. Satisfaction with the education system has risen markedly (though it stayed constant in the EU) and satisfaction with pensions and social services has also improved. 

Turkey and Europe 2020 targets

Turkey measures well against many Europe 2020 targets. Employment rates have increased and poverty rates have decreased significantly.

Problems, however, persist. Deprivation remains much higher than the EU28 average: in 2012, 40% of people overall said they had problems keeping their home warm enough, buying new clothes or affording a meal with meat every second day. Rates of female employment, early school leaving and tertiary education are still a long way from EU targets, as is expenditure on research and development. 

New report details developments

Eurofound's new report, Trends in quality of life Turkey: 2003–2012, explores these and a range of related issues in detail. In particular, it examines how the experience of different sociodemographic groups – young and old people, men and women, and urban and rural dwellers – has varied during the profound changes of the past decade.

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