Nearly half of young Turkish people pessimistic about future - research

With Turkey’s economy struggling through a severe downturn that shunted it into recession at the end of 2018, millions of Turks are struggling to find reasons to be cheerful.

Unemployment has reached a nine-year high, the lira lost 28 percent of its value last year and continues to fluctuate, inflation continues at high levels, and households and companies are struggling to meet loan repayments.

With the outlook less than rosy, the latest data from non-profit Habitat Association shows that young people are becoming ever more pessimistic about their future.

Just 55 percent on young people in Turkey say they are hopeful for the future, according to their responses to Habitat’s biennial survey.

That marks a 12 percent drop since the last survey was carried out in 2017. A similar fall was seen in the number of young people who said they were content with their lives: 60 percent this year compared to 71 percent two years ago.

Habitat’s data shows good reasons for the gloomy outlook. The number of young Turks in employment has dropped by nearly 9 percent to 44 percent, and the 4 percent rise in young students to 31 percent does not account for the fall. Thirteen percent of young Turks are actively seeking work, while a report prepared by Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in March placed youth unemployment at nearly 25 percent, 10 percent higher than the country’s overall rate.

So, it is unsurprising that half of Habitat’s respondents said there were insufficient opportunities for work in their home areas. A third complained that they did not have any contacts who could provide them with work. 

With jobs few and far between, nearly a third of the young people questioned said they were surviving on 600 liras – around $100 – or less per month. Less than a quarter said they were receiving the highest category surveyed, 2,400 liras ($410) or more. The current gross minimum wage in Turkey is 2,558 liras per month.

The lack of jobs and low income has left 38 percent of respondents at times unable to pay mandatory expenses, 28 percent forced to postpone their future plans, and 27 percent unable to pay credit card bills.

The most common ambition for young people in Turkey is to start their own business – almost 60 percent of young men and 41 percent of young women wished to become entrepreneurs, according to Habitat’s results.

However, with prospects bleak at home, many see life abroad as the best option: a quarter said they would like to settle permanently in a foreign country, with the United States the most popular option chosen by almost a fifth of those.

Almost half of young Turks who want to settle abroad said they were motivated by a lack of work in Turkey, while 12 percent said they felt their personal freedoms were restricted in Turkey, and 11 percent said they wanted to leave the country for better educational opportunities.