Turkish and Kurdish Fertility in Turkey: New Statistical Evidence for Convergence
Word Count: 3,528
Number of Tables: 5
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Running Head: Turkish and Kurdish Fertility in Turkey
The purpose of this quantitative study was to present and discuss statistical evidence for the convergence of Turkish and Kurdish fertility rates in the Republic of Turkey. Linear regression and other statistical methods were utilized in order to illustrate convergence, which was theorized as (a) resulting from the delayed exposure of Turkey’s Kurds to the dynamics of modernization and (b) providing compelling evidence against the claim that Turks and Kurds belong to ...view middle of the document...
The topic of ethnic Turkish and Kurdish fertility in Turkey is not widely studied among scholars, but remains of immense political and social interest. There has been journalistic speculation that Kurds will come to constitute the dominant ethnic population within Turkey (Ghosh, 2012). Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has made fertility an important policy theme, repeatedly asking women in Turkey to have more children (Altıok, 2013). Erdoğan’s outreach to Turkish Kurds (Taheri, 2014) is likely to be motivated by the demographic strength of ethnic Kurds in the Southeast of Turkey. For several years, Turkey’s Kurds have demanded greater autonomy (Gunter, 2013), an autonomy that they are can plausibly obtain through greater numbers. Clearly, then, much depends on obtaining accurate insight into the fertility of Turkish Kurds.
For some time, the scholarly (Işık & Pınarcıoğlu, 2006; Koç et al., 2008) and popular (Ghosh, 2012) narrative has been that, in Koç et al.’s phrase, there is no convergence underway between the fertility of Turks and Kurds in Turkey. Admittedly, Koç et al. utilized a concept of convergence that included not only fertility but also several other demographic variables, including demography. Nevertheless, on the basis of fertility alone, there are good reasons to examine the claim of non-convergence more carefully, especially given that (a) Koç et al. only employed data from two surveys (the 2003 and 2008 Turkey Demographic and Health Surveys carried out every five years by researchers affiliated with Hacettepe University in Turkey); and (b) Koç et al. extrapolated a great deal from the Turkey Demographic and Health Surveys, including the ethnicity of populations within Turkey, in a manner unsupported by the data.
My analysis of data from the 1978 to 2008 Turkey Demographic and Health Surveys, triangulated with an analysis of Turkish provincial-level demographic data provided by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat, 2014), offers some statistical support for the claim that Turkish and Kurdish fertility is in fact converging. The significance of this finding is threefold. First, the idea that Turkish Kurds constitute a special population vis-à-vis fertility has to be discarded; Turkish Kurds are obeying the same regional and indeed global forces driving lower fertility. Second, various theories that have drawn on the observed difference between Turkish and Kurdish fertility to make claims about hard social distinctions between Turks and Kurds might have to be reconsidered. Third, the theme of Kurdish fertility as it functions in all spheres of Turkish politics ought to be understood as specter reflecting the fears and ambitions of ethno-politicians more than as the reflection of any demographic reality.
The Hacettepe University-sponsored Turkish Demographic and Health Surveys from 1978 to 2008 (Hacettepe, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008) trace fertility in five regions of...