Turkey’s aging population outpaces youth growth

Turkey’s aging population outpaces youth growth

The young population of Turkey is showing telltale signs of aging, as its under-29 population grew by a mere 0.35 percent in 2009.

January 26, 2010, Tuesday/ 16:19:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
Turkey is showing signs of aging as the growth of the country’s immense youth population slows down and that of the older population accelerates, as a decade of strong economic growth is reflected in families’ reproductive choices.

According to 2009 census figures by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) released on Monday, Turkey’s population was 72,561,312 at the end of 2009, having grown by 1.45 percent compared to 2008 and actually picking up the pace compared to the annual 1.31 percent growth rate in 2008.

Turkey’s young population, which is larger than the total population of many European countries and is second in Europe only to Russia’s, showed signs of contraction, as the median age of the country rose from 28.5 years to 28.8 years in 2009. In other words, half of Turkey’s population is under the age of 28.8, a number that has risen 3.6 months in the span of a year.

Speaking on this issue on Monday at the unveiling of the Supreme Planning Board’s (YPK) 2010 Investment Program, Cevdet Yılmaz noted that the number of births per woman in Turkey was 2.12, under the global average of 2.58, making Turkey 120th in the world. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who remarked on this issue in early 2008, noted that because Turkey is getting older, couples should have at least three kids in order to continue to keep the population of Turkey young. The census data released this week show that Turkey’s youth population growth has slowed down. The growth in the number of children under the age of 4 decreased from 3.53 percent in 2008 to 2.62 percent in 2009. Moreover, continuing the aging trend, the growth rate of the number of youth under the age of 29 contracted to 0.35 percent in 2009 from 0.52 percent.

The above-65 age group grew the most, jumping by 3.88 percent in 2009, trumping the youth growth rate and the total population growth rate of 1.45 percent by 2.43 percentage points. Moreover, the size of the 30-64 age group also grew by 3.0 percent. This, coupled with the decrease in the growth rate of youth noted above, indicates that Turkey is starting to age significantly, following the aging trends that many developed countries have experienced. In accordance with typical development trends Turkey is experiencing lower fertility rates due to increased economic prosperity and thus a slowdown in youth population growth.

Female population shrinking

The ratio of females in the total population of Turkey is actually falling, contrary to global trends in the developed world, where women make up the majority of the population. While 49.7 percent of Turkey’s population was female in 2009, this number was 49.8 in 2008 and 49.9 in 2007, indicating that the male population is growing faster than the female population. The proportion of females in the youth population, or the population of females under the age of 29, has remained the same at 48.8 percent.

Provincial growth

İstanbul was unsurprisingly the province of choice for a sixth of the population, as 17.8 percent of the population lived there in 2009, unchanged from 2008. The second most populated province was Ankara, with 6.41 percent of the population residing there, up from 6.36 percent in 2008. İzmir was the third most populated province with 5.3 percent of the population, unchanged from 2008. The smallest province by population, Bayburt, had a total of 74,710 people, having grown even smaller compared to the 75,674 people living there in 2008. Moreover, 75.5 percent of the population was living in provincial and district centers in 2009, compared to 75 percent in 2008, continuing the gradual pace of urbanization.

Çankırı, Bilecik and Isparta were the fastest growing provinces, with annual growth rates of 4.94, 4.5 and 3.2 percent, respectively. The population of Tunceli, Ardahan and Kars contracted the most significantly at rates of 4.0, 3.7 and 1.8 percent, respectively.

The census was conducted through the Address-Based Population Registration System, which uses the National Address Database to track the number of people living at a specific address and uses national identification numbers in the case of Turkish nationals and passport numbers in the case of foreigners to count the national population. The system went into effect in 2007.

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