Economic Consequences of Emigration From Turkey 2022
Republic of Turkey passports handed out at airports by those checking in for emigration from Turkey

Economic Consequences of Emigration From Turkey 2022

Introduction

The people’s emigration from Turkey in the past was mainly for the sake of pursuing better economic opportunities. The economy is still a leading factor in the recent wave of people emigrating from Turkey, along with other factors. 

Turkey is the largest host country for refugees in the world. There are about 4 million refugees currently in Turkey, mainly from Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Africa. These refugees have put pressure on its security as well as the economy of the country. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s resolution to settle refugees (Syrian) has raised concerns in the minds of the Turkish people for their future. The uncertain future of the so-called “New Turkey” under him, the increasingly fragile economy, high taxes, and low wages led to this “Turkey exodus.” The authoritarian system and religious fundamentalism have eroded freedom of speech and the press. 

Turkey ranks 149th out of 180 in the World Press Freedom Index, 2022, by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The rule of law is being eroded, and the majority voice says the elections are unfair. Lifestyle has deteriorated as well. 

Youth, in particular, are seeking emigration from Turkey in search of better education and employment opportunities that they cannot find at home. In its most recent report, the European Statistics Office “Eurostat” said that the number of Turkish asylum seekers in European Union countries has increased by five times over the past six years since the coup attempt against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Thus, there are multidimensional factors that are leading to this emigration from Turkey.

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How has Turkey’s emigration changed over the past decade?

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With approximately 6.7 million diasporas and another three million permanent returnees, Turkey has long been one of the top emigration countries. According to Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the number of Turkish people living abroad exceeds 6.5 million, and around 5.5 million of this population live in Western European countries. Turkey ranks 5th on the list of the countries applying for emigration, asylum, and temporary protection to European countries. According to the European statistical office, asylum requests from Turkey to Europe have climbed 506% since 2019.

What are Turkey’s Emigration Problems?

Theoretically, it appears that emigration from Turkey would end their suffering and ensure a new start for the Turkish people. However, in reality, the situation is not so. Turkish emigrants face many problems, including difficulties getting a European travel visa and identity crises. Further, following 9/11, xenophobia, bigotry, racism, and Islamophobia towards Muslims escalated. 

Turkish people in West Europe are mainly Muslims and are directly and adversely affected by these tendencies. The people who emigrated from Turkey become a liability for the host country, creating competition among its populace and the Turkish diaspora community. This emigration from Turkey presents challenges to the emigrating people, the parent country, Turkey, and the host countries.

How does Emigration Affect Economic Development in Turkey?

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The influx of refugees to Turkey has adversely affected its socio-political and economic situation. Above this, the educated and skilled population emigration from Turkey is fueling the fire. Over the past few years, many students and academics moved abroad, as well as entrepreneurs, businesspeople, and hundreds of high-net-worth individuals have emigrated abroad with their families. Turkish capital outflows increased from 4 billion USD in 2012 to about 44 billion USD in 2020. Investors are also reluctant to make investments in the country. Foreign direct investment has declined dramatically over the past few years, and foreign debt has risen.

The new economic plan’s flawed reasoning is to devalue the Turkish lira to boost exports and lower labor costs because the state cannot produce high-value-added items, profitability declines even as export numbers rise. A lack of skilled workers prevents the production of value-added goods. The systematic crackdown on economic hardship due to inflation, high taxes, and low salaries has further aggravated the situation. The country’s skilled workers have already fled, and the brain drain continues.

What are the Economic Reasons for Emigration from Turkey?

The emigration from Turkey is mainly due to the state’s economic circumstances. According to the Better Life Index released by the OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development), Turkey ranks 37th among 40 OECD states. Housing, income, employment, community, education, environment, civic participation, health, life satisfaction, security, and work-life balance are the 11 dimensions of this index. 

Regarding safety, democratic participation, and health, Turkey performs about averagely. These are not the main issues facing young people. Turkey, however, ranks among the worst countries in terms of income, life satisfaction, and work-life balance. According to official sources, the tax has increased to 3.1% of GDP, while government debt is 43% of the GDP. 

Most people who emigrate from Turkey head toward Western and Northern Europe. According to data collected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Turkish European Foundation for Education and Scientific Studies (TAVAK), and the Turkish Employment Agency (IKUR), about 6 million Turkish people reside abroad, out of which 5 million reside in Europe. 

The remaining 1 million Turks live in Australia, North America, the Middle East, and Asia. Germany has the largest Turkish population. About 1.63 million Turkish people have so far emigrated from Turkey to live in Germany, and about 544,382 are actively employed. 

France has the second highest population of Turkish people. After Germany and France, the Turkish people prefer the United States, Denmark, Australia, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as their emigration destinations. 

What are and will be the Economic Consequences of Emigration from Turkey?

Generally, emigration from any country may have positive or negative effects on different sectors of life depending on the root causes of that emigration. Emigration from Turkey has mixed effects, with negative effects dominating positive effects. 

As said, there is “brain-drain” which means the skilled and educated workforce is leaving the country, leaving it in the hands of less educated or skilled people. It includes teachers, research scholars, doctors, human resource managers, banking staff, and other administrative staff. The housing sector is being affected. Research culture is decaying as the educated class moves and settles abroad. 

Many industries requiring skilled labor and educated staff are adversely affected. The result is economic degradation as the working class has moved out of the country. In the case of Turkey, people are emigrating with their families, which means that they are not sending capital to their parent country Turkey. Thus, along with the emigration from turkey, there is a flow of capital out of Turkey. 

Likewise, the business class and entrepreneurs are emigrating from Turkey and settling in other countries, primarily the European states, which means these people will make investments in these countries, depriving their homeland state of Turkey of it. Investors are also reluctant to make investments in the country. Foreign direct investment has declined dramatically over the past few years, and foreign debt has risen. 

A state’s global image is ruined when its residents leave. The tourism sector collapses. This will have gross economic consequences for the future. The long-term consequences of this emigration from Turkey can be far more mordant if the chain of this emigration is not broken.

Conclusion

Many socio-political and economic problems lead the Turkish people to emigrate from Turkey, such as; authoritarian government, political instability, refugee crises, fragile economy, uncertain future, lack of personal security and freedom, high taxes, low wages, and others. This emigration from Turkey is mainly for the youth and entrepreneurs who want a secure future. As a result of this emigration, the educated, wealthy, and skilled population is shrinking, further leading to a vicious cycle of socio-political and economic problems in Turkey, as observed.

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