German Turkish Masters Program in Social Sciences Course ID: GTSS 502 Instructors: Prof. Dr.

Helga Rittersberger-TILIC

Positioning the Turkish Welfare Regime in the European Context
The influence of the European Social Model on Turkish welfare state transformation

Stefan Kohlwes Student ID: 1714617 Ankara 10 June 2010

Contents 1. 2. Introduction..................................................................................................................................... 3 European Welfare Regimes – convergence or divergence? ........................................................... 4 2.1 2.3 3. The European Social Model ..................................................................................................... 6 Conclusion: is the European Social Model really a model?..................................................... 9

The Turkish Welfare Regime: .......................................................................................................... 9 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 A short historical background of the Turkish Welfare State ................................................. 10 Three informal channels of welfare provision ...................................................................... 11 The deficits of the Turkish Social System: ............................................................................. 14 Turkey’s welfare regime in transition - social security reform: ............................................ 15

4. Where to converge to? A tentative conclusion................................................................................. 17


the provision of welfare services especially in the field of social security has not played a prominent role until now but is more and more to be seen on the political agenda. As will be shown. it has come to be a highly institutionalized component of European state tradition. as a country positioned at the periphery of geographical as well as political Europe. Thus. Having its origins in industrialization and the rise of social tensions. The prevailing perception in the literature describes the welfare state as a European invention. Turkey is in a different position. Turkey. Turkey provides a very interesting and distinct example of welfare regimes in transition. even admonishers of budget discipline and public spending cuts such as the World Bank and the IMF advice Turkey to increase their spending on welfare provision. see the welfare state currently under sever attack by the continuing promotion of a neoliberal agenda as well as by economical. Might Turkey. it is furthermore our concern to evaluate to what extent an influence of current debates on the European Welfare States and in specific on a “European Social Model” can be retraced within the process of welfare state transformation in Turkey. A formal welfare regime is yet to be constructed and even though the struggle for greater efficiency certainly plays a role. In the framework of the accession negotiations with the European Union. Even though political concepts of modernization and westernization have shaped the path Turkey has taken over the last century. whereas cuts in public spending and especially in welfare are discussed and promoted in most European countries. still highly mobile as to its low degree of institutionalization and allegedly being influenced by European ideas. however. The aim is not merely to analyze the path that Turkey has embarked upon with the recent reform packages under the government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP – Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi).1. Introduction This paper provides a case study of the Turkish welfare regime in a comparative perspective. Many scholars. social and political questions and predicaments generally associated with the notion of globalization. even mirror the vision of how the European Union pictures its future welfare states to be? 3 . Public spending on welfare is among the lowest in the OECD countries. emerged from a state tradition interlinked with European countries yet highly distinct from them at the same time.

orthodox Marxian scholars regard welfare policies as designed by the state to appease the working class and thus continuously solidify the existing capitalist system and smoothening/concealing its inherent unjust social relations and contradictions. European Welfare Regimes – convergence or divergence? The main aim of this brief introduction on European welfare regimes is to put the following chapters into a balanced perspective. Emphasis will be put on outlining the debate about divergences and trends of convergence among European welfare regimes. the most pressing socioeconomic and structural shortcomings and finally the transformation under the AKP-led government shall put the Turkish welfare state into (European) perspective. the aim within the scope of this paper cannot be to provide a detailed evaluation of specific reforms in a certain domain of the welfare state. meanwhile. In the conclusion the question will be discussed whether Turkey converges towards a “European Social Model. The German Reichskanzler Otto von Bismarck was the first to introduce a system of work-based social insurance in times of not only rising social tensions in the course of the industrializationinduced social questions but also in times of hardening class-divisions and the political mobilization of the working class. 4 . The conservative narrative. the discussion about the welfare states origins and its aims has never ebbed away and is reaching in fact new peaks. The dominant narrative within the literature discussing the development of welfare states considers the welfare state as a European and a capitalist invention. welfare provision by the state has come to be seen as an essential part of modern states. This will be done not only in order to frame the discussion about an alleged “European Social Model” but also to carve out some crucial differences between most European welfare regimes and the Turkish one. Still. A short introduction about the current debates of (European) welfare tradition and a discussion about a common European conception of the welfare state coined with the concept “European Social Model” shall provide the framework. regards welfare as an unaffordable social cost and as having a detrimental impact on individual morality and motivation.” 2. In the meantime. Whereas the formerly critical social democracy has come to identify itself with the welfare state.Considering this rather broad conceptual question. An evaluation of the historical legacies of state-society and state-market traditions.

flexible production patterns replacing the Fordist production system. the convergence thesis argues that gradually welfare states tend to converge with each other. and the labor market play in sustaining the livelihood of the individual in society (Grütjen 2008: 113). and changing labour markets state policies in the light of enhanced international competition (Buğra & Keyder 2003: 12 ff). the second idea is that with modernization. The first idea is related to Esping-Anderson’s prominent typology of welfare regimes focusing on path-dependent development and the ensuing immobility of welfare states due to high degrees of institutionalization (Achterberg & Yerkes 2009: 1. Later. Concerning the critique on EspingAndersons typology see: Arts. a forth type based on special characteristics of southern-European countries was added to EspingAndersons typology1. the family. Myles & Pierson 2001: 312 ff). 137-159 5 1 . there are two ideas dominating the current discourse about the laws behind the development of welfare states. John (2002) Three worlds of welfare capitalism or more? A state-of-the-art report in: Journal of European Social Policy 12. At the latest since the international (Western) paradigmatic shift in political economy which occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the course of financial crises and increasing impact of globalization. As the Turkish welfare regime is usually categorized within that last. fourth type. Wil. all models faced. the conservative model. and the Scandinavian model where a universal approach based on equal citizenship is of great importance for the design of social policies. which is institutionalized on the basis of employment and the supporting role of the family. countries are growing more alike. In alleged contrast.Notwithstanding this ongoing and crucial debate. pp. Gelissen. albeit as a matter of fact to quite different extents. a set of problems deriving from developments which were everything but limited to the national sphere: demographic trends leading to the ageing of population and changes in family structures. Thus. it shall be discussed more thoroughly at a later point. Both ideas shall be discussed briefly: The concept of “welfare regime” is defined in terms of the different roles that institutions such as the state. Esping-Anderson introduced this concept and defined three types of welfare regime in developed Western countries: the market-oriented Anglo-Saxon model. the emergence of post-industrial service economies.

On the other hand. 6 . i. A strong narrative is that generous social provision in the context of global economic change represents an unaffordable luxury for advanced industrial societies. For others. Convergence is hence perceived as leading towards a kind of “neo-liberal welfare state” (Achterberg 2009: 4). the following paragraph will mainly focus on sketching general ideas on European welfare on the one hand and on the feasibility that the concept has impact on the transformation process in Turkey as a candidate for full membership. 2. what would be the use of such a minimum standard obligation? In the scope of this paper it is only to a limited extent possible to retrace the multi-faceted debate on the “European Social Model.” As bureaucratic and legal question are of immense complexity.It is those shared factors pressing for change and the emergence of a neoliberal agenda promoted as an international remedy that gave rise to the second idea of increasing convergence. How do policy and decision makers in the EU picture a common social model to be? The definition of European minimum standards of welfare that states should provide its citizens would be in line with the neoliberal ideology in case the minimum is set low enough and would at the same time pay credit to the still very different national setting in the 27 EU member states. Labour Party. it just raises the blood pressure“ (Anna Diamantopoulou – Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs.2003) Is the European Union with its conception of a European Social Model a factor actively “producing” convergence? Before we approach an answer with reference to the Turkish case we shall first clarify if there is enough convergence. it is exactly the question connected to this assumption which is crucial. There is thus a widespread perception that the changing global environment fosters a “race to the bottom” and leads to a much more modest level of social provision. Besides alleged institutional obstacles opposed to the implementation of more stringent common social policies on a European level.1 The European Social Model „For some in the EU the expression „European Social Model“ evokes warm feelings of social justice and solidarity.e. agreement between the 27 member states in terms of social policies to define a relative coherent European Social Model. Within that context.

the European integration process has created a blatant “constitutional asymmetry” between policies promoting market efficiencies and policies promoting social protection and equality. Russia or Latin America but it is also presented as a necessary counterweight to the process of economic integration (Manning 2007: 493). the European integration process was foremost concerned with removing tariff barriers. While at the national level economic policy and policies concerning social protection still have more or less the same constitutional status. it is foremost used to highlight common European patterns in contrast to those in the USA.The first treaties of Rome leading to the creation of the European Economic Community did not attempt to harmonize policy fields such as social regulations or taxation. National welfare states are constitutionally constrained by the “supremacy” of all European rules of economic integration. Politically. The following process of European integration from Rome over the Single European Act to Maastricht and its commitment to the European Monetary Union was exclusively framed by considerations of market integration and liberalization (Scharpf 2002: 646 ff. liberalization and competition law. Yet. rigidly constraining public sector deficits of its member states. a uniform European legislation in field of the social-policy has hardly exceeded the relatively low minimal standards that are acceptable to all Member States. 7 . It was thus foremost economic integration and its inherent economic aims and not social policy consciously dealing with and targeting social problems that effected social policies in member countries. it is used in White Papers of the European Commission as a concept and is constant object of discussion. even though a European Social Model is currently much more defined by soft law. The heterogeneity of welfare states increased with each new member state. liberalizing state-owned industries and infrastructure functions. policy recommendations and joint commitments to certain values than by accountable law (to use this neoliberal jargon). Until today. At the same time they must operate under the fiscal rules of monetary union while their revenue base is eroding as a consequence of tax competition and the “need” to reduce nonwage labor costs (Scharpf 2002: 666). As a consequence of that imbalance and the great diversity of welfare regimes among the 27 EU member states. eliminating national control over exchange rates and monetary policy and finally.). with the very important stability and growth pact.

eu/ (accessed: 5 June 2010) 3 2 The European Trade Union Confederation on the European Social Model: http://www.” The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights includes chapters on freedoms. in the Lisbon European Council in 2007. equal treatment.etuc. Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union & Charter of fundamental Rights of the European Union: http://eurlex. or in the “social acquis” as part of the acquis communautaire defining “obligations” in the framework of individual employment (contracts and relationships of employment. discrimination. Moreover. The treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) set down fundamental social objectives such as the “promotion of employment”. collective redundancy). it tries to improve these through promoting common objectives and common indicators and through comparative evaluations of national policy performance.General objectives in terms of social policy and the vision of a “Social Europe” have been formulated in many treaties. social security and social assistance. health and safety at work) and collective labor relations (worker representation.3 Further more or less concrete regulations have been part of succeeding Treaties such as the Social Protocol of the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 with its “formulation of standards” on working time and equal opportunity regulations. equality and solidarity. the aim to reach a greater convergence in terms of social policy was explicitly stated and a method to reach that aim was agreed upon: the “open method of coordination”.europa. “essential services and an income that enables every individual to live in dignity. information and consultation. rights to fair and just working conditions. “dialogue between management and labor” or “the development of human resources with a view to lasting high employment and the combating of exclusion. “guaranteeing fundamental human rights”. While leaving effective policy choices at the national level.2 The European Trade Union Confederation meanwhile formulates even more broadly the principles of the European Social Model as “creating a more equal society” by “ending poverty and poverty wages”. equality between men and women or trade union 8 . charters and international agreements. “improved living and working conditions” … “proper social protection”.

the character of a European Social Model seems to be relatively distinct. After a short overview over Turkey’s recent economic history under the influence of globalization and neoliberalism. it has. “anticipatory” and “aspirational” character (Diamantopoulou 2003: 3). 3. a blatant “constitutional asymmetry” between social and economic regulations and legislation. as well as the level of economic development. and even though it tends to conceal the vast differences between the 27 member welfare states. Similar to expressions such as “European Union” or “Common Foreign and Security Policy”.3 Conclusion: is the European Social Model really a model? It is claimed here that the European Social Model exists foremost because it is used as a concept in official documents of the European Commission. tradition. Even if the term “European Social Model” escapes precise definition. as Scharpf has stated. reminds as in fact of the neoliberal jargon in its “third way-design”. To what extent a European Social Model could also build a future counterweight vis-à-vis the contradictions of neoliberalism seems to be a justified question. ideology. as a model. the emphasis will be put on sketching the Turkish Welfare regime in its broad characteristics as well as on defining the biggest challenges. specific national characteristics as well as the context of global and European trends in the last three decades which some refer to as the decline of welfare states. While there is indeed. The Turkish Welfare Regime: The structure and expansion of welfare states depends on socioeconomic factors. the word “model” hints at a progressive real convergence of views among member states on general aims which they seek to achieve in employment and social policy. 4 As a neoliberal term 9 .2. The following evaluation of the Turkish welfare regime and the recent reforms of the social security system shall thus take into account both. In its whole design to stress the coexistence and in fact interdependence of “economic growth” and “social justice”4 and “competitiveness” and “solidarity”. A short evaluation of the recent reforms will be made in order to be able to define a “direction” of Turkish social policies.

Different attempts have been made to classify Turkey’s welfare regime. The reforms and programs implemented at the beginning of the 1980s thus signaled a dramatic shift in the state’s role in market and society and its economic policies which had sever effects on the structure of the Turkish labor market. Thatcher and the politics of Retrenchment. and ensure some equality concerning social services” (Asa Briggs in: Elveren 2008: 213). Most prominent among them. 7 no. Daniel (2009) The Turkish Welfare Regime: An Example of the Southern European Model? The Role of the State. Cem Utku (2009) Social Security Reform in Turkey: Different usages of Europe in shaping the national welfare reform 7 6 5 10 . Duyulmus. Politiy Press. „Dismantling the Welfare State“ is an expression frequently used in the literature to refer to the impact of neoliberal policies on the welfare states. we will make use of a terminology provided by Elveren on the one hand and Buğra & Keyder on the other. Very different from most European countries. See for example Grütjen. a move connected to its most prominent and radical precursors Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain and Ronald Reagan in the USA. where the politics of Keynesian demand management and comparatively expansive state regulation were abandoned to shift towards a new dogma/conceptualization of (re-) commodification of labor and dis-organization of capitalism in the 1980s5. Cambridge. Turkey has until then had a long tradition of etatism.1. Both terms stress the same characteristic See for example: Bob Jessop (2002) The Keynesian Welfare National State and The Schumpeterian Competition State in: The Future of Capitalist State. pp. Turkey is usually classified as belonging to the SouthernEuropean type. Paul Pierson (1996) “Dismantling the Welfare State? Reagan. With reference to Esping-Andersons typology. vol. Market and Family in Welfare Provision in: Turkish Policy quarterly.1 A short historical background of the Turkish Welfare State Turkey’s encounter with neoliberalism pretty much occurred at the same time as in Europe. 55-139.7 In the following. Steps of privatization and liberalization had been incremental and always accompanied by severe political tensions.3. a large public sector and high figures of state-owned enterprises. pp. 111 – 129. the emergence of neoliberalism did not come along with calls to “dismantle the welfare state. to provide some safety mechanism against social contingencies (inability to earn income when sick or old). however.”6 This derives from the fact that the Turkish Welfare Regime was not and still is not nearly comparable to European states in its attempt to guarantee “individuals and families a minimum level of income.” Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

it is necessary to contemplate the specific character of the informal channels of welfare provision in Turkey that have played and are partially still playing a great role in keeping relative stability in spite of the severe socio-economic impact of Turkey’s neoliberal course change in the 1980s and 1990s. Whereas many family members migrate to cities. Considering the widespread assessment that industrialized and democratic states need a broad welfare regime to reproduce itself. A universal social assistance scheme tied to citizenship as existent in most European countries. Elveren refers to Turkey –being a “developing country” – as an “indirect and minimalist welfare regime” (Elveren 2008: 214). Buğra & Keyder stress the problem inherent in an inegalitarian system. Buğra & Keyder meanwhile use the term “inegalitarian corporatist welfare regime”(Buğra. subordinate role.2 Three informal channels of welfare provision Buğra & Keyder define the three most important channels of welfare provision as the “continuing ties of newly urbanized immigrants with their villages of origin”. The Turkish labor market is characterized by a relatively high significance of agricultural employment still comprising about 40% of the workforce (B&K 2003: 16). The formal social security system is characterized as a highly fragmented and hierarchical system of a corporatist character which provides combined health and pension benefits to formally employed heads of household according to their status at work. predominantly through informal employment. is attributed (as a matter of fact. Given that the labor market structure has long been and still is characterized by its high figures of informally employed as well as unpaid family labor. it attributes itself) a small. Wheras Elverens terminology hints at the fact that the state. is often a contribution to the family’s 11 . 3. Keyder 2006: 211). The characteristics of the Turkish welfare regime which lie behind both terms shall be topic of this chapter. does not exist. the money earned. The long and to some extent still persisting durability of those channels can to some extent be explained by the specific dynamic of the rural urbandivide and the character of urbanization in Turkey.which has also been widely discussed as being part other Soutern-European countries such as Spain. the current system cannot achieve coverage for a sufficiant part of the Turkish population. Greece or Portugal. priviledging particular interests. as one possible provider of welfare along with the market and informal networks. “possibilities of informal housing” and foremost the importance of family and neighborhood assistance mechanisms” (B&K 2006: 220).

common income. The second factor might be called – in Elveren’s words – an indirect provision of welfare by the state. Through eventual formalization of those occupied spaces they also became owners of land and real estate. They have also kept in place a socioeconomic order where family solidarity could compensate for the absence of a formal security system that could effectively deal with risk situations such as unemployment. Being 12 . developments exceeding the Turkish case such as declining birth rates and the increasing dwindling of the extended to the nuclear family in the urban context has put further pressure on Turkey’s informal. sickness or age (Buğra 2003: 56ff). The state for a long time having been an “employer of last resort” with its state-owned enterprises. urban immigrants had the possibility to occupy public land in the periphery of cities. Thus. started to erode during the 1990s when an increasingly affluent middle class started to be tended by the real estate market thereby commodifying land that had thereto served as a source of social security for relatively indigent urban migrants. thus disposing of a source of wealth and social security. In spite of those developments. That means at the same time that many urban immigrants can still rely on mutual forms of assistance being provided by the family. Elveren and Yeldan all stress the role of the neoliberal transformation as having deteriorating effects not only on the Turkish economy and the structure of the Turkish labor market but also on the hitherto existing informal channels of welfare provision. Before the 1980s. the family continues to be regarded as the key element of the Turkish welfare system. however. or the gecekondu solution to the urban housing problem do not constitute a formal policy of income and employment but they have been successful in keeping unemployment and worse forms of poverty under control. The official “moral legitimacy” the gecekondu had enjoyed. thus maintaining a system of informal mutual assistance and social security. “traditional” channels of welfare provision (World Bank 2005 in Grütjen 2008: 3). The family is the third and most important pillar of informal welfare provision in Turkey (a common and crucial feature of the Southern European welfare state). they were not only “provided” with free housing. agricultural policies that have contributed to the survival of small family farms. Buğra & Keyder. Even though family and neighborhood assistance also practically continues to be an important source of social security. These so-called gecekondu were furthermore “mechanisms” that could transfer whole networks of family and neighborhood from the countryside into the city.

13 . though not a new phenomenon. Thus. Turkey had and still has severe problems to maintain traditional forms of welfare policies as well as to adapt to the socio-political challenges that come along with privatization. Turkey counted not more than 23. With the erosion of informal welfare provision. the World Bank estimates that about half of the Turkish labor force works in the informal sector. Whereas on average 56% of women in the EU 27 were employed in 2005. This puts.” The fight against child labor and the integration of women into the Turkish labor market for example pose serious challenges to be dealt with by the Turkish state (Turkey 2009 Progress Report: 65). The World Economic Forum ranked Turkey 105 among 115 countries in terms of equal opportunities of women on the labor market.7% (Grütjen 2008: 3). the state did not provide formal protection against risk categories such as sickness or age. the already mentioned form of “inegalitarian corporatism” to hard competition from abroad and to the logic of international finance. but rather provided formal employment opportunities in state owned enterprises or indirectly in state-protected private sector enterprises. and a shift from agricultural to industrial employment (in Turkey as a lateindustrializing country to a much lesser degree) and later in the service sector. Today. liberalization but also a new type of urbanization. Recent studies have indicated that female employment in the informal sector has risen significantly as especially badly paid home-work and so-called piece-work performed by women plays an increasingly important part in securing sufficient family income. The low labor-force participation rate of women also poses a serious problem for the long-term financing of the social security system as many of them are passively insured over their husbands without paying any premiums. poverty in various forms. World Bank reports on the Turkish and regular assessments of the European Union give evidence that the socio-economic problems is facing and will be facing are immense and on very different “battlegrounds. the figures people employed in the informal labor market increased significantly. has come to be seen as one of the major challenges to the Turkish welfare state. providing social protection to a small minority of the population formerly employed in the public or industrial sector. With the breaking away of state-provided employment. Turkey – to use a political jargon – “lacks behind” in terms of tackling those challenges and social problems. in turn immense financial strains on the long-term financing of the slowly transforming social security system. As in many developing countries. In many different areas.

the World Bank published figures around 67%. Whereas officially 84. for example offered by social institutions funded by the state. Only in the USA and in Mexico less people are covered by the public health care system.“ Different social insurance agencies each tending a specific clientele offer different services and thus solidify inequality within the population. 4. respectively which the Turkish social security system is not able to tackle. Thus.5 % of the Turkish population is covered by health care insurances. 1.3. 3. while the Food Poverty line defined by the World Bank was 85 TL). Considering current demographic developments. People employed in the informal labor market do not pay premiums yet most of them are insured passively with the head of the household. Only those services which are offered in the framework of social insurances are connected to legal entitlements. Only 41% of the Turks older than 65 receive payments out of pension insurance schemes. 37% does not have any entitlement to pensions. have a highly volatile character (Grütjen 2008: 4ff) 14 . Every other services. Insufficient coverage of the population: This deficit refers to the quota of people who are covered as well as to the benefits payed. Turkey might be facing serious problems. Unequal distribution of social services This aspect underlines what Buğra & Keyder have termed as „inegalitarian corporatist regime. 2. Four main deficits of the Turkish social system can be defined.3 The deficits of the Turkish Social System: These problematic developments due to a complicated mixture of trends which exceed the Turkish borders and the specific historic legacy of welfare conceptions in Turkey lead to a set of serious problems which the formal Turkish security system is exposed to. Non-existence of universal social rights connected to citizenship Social assistance schemes connected to citizenship do not yet exist. a great part of the Turkish population has to pay for medical care by themselves. About 22% are entitled to a minimum pension (65 TL in 2005. High indebtedness of social insurance agencies The main reason is to be found in the structure of the Turkish labor market.

mainly by promoting well-known third-way security reform: Since the turn of the millennium. “European Union Council Decision of 19 May 2003” 2003 9 8 15 .4 Turkey’s welfare regime in transition . The International Monetary Fund as well as the World Bank had a strong hand in the neoliberal transformation process of Turkey’s economy giving out conditional loans that ensured Turkey’s economic opening and streamlining with the neoliberal agenda. Even though some of the recent reforms will be discussed briefly. In the 2002 and 2003 reports. it is stated that – in terms of social policies – “amendments to the current legislation are still needed in order to ensure the proper functioning of the social security system and to ensure its fiscal sustainability” (Commission Communication 1999). more encompassing than the IMF and the World Bank. In the Council Decisions in 2001 and 2003. Turkey was required to “ensure the sustainability of the pension and social security system” as a part of economic criteria.9 Elveren states that although the EU emphasizes the importance of enhancing social security by increasing state Although Pierson has stressed that the World Bank seems to have changed its „philosophy“. Turkey has been strongly influenced in its entire political course by different international actors. It has already been stated at the beginning that the European agenda concerning member states as well as accession countries is strongest. repositioning itself on the issue of social policy and development and paying great attention to “attacking poverty”. emphasis shall be put on the environment in which those changes have been discussed. the recommendation concerning reforms in social security clearly promote economic development and the creation of a high level of competitiveness before dealing with concerns such as social equality or poverty. stressing non-state and community responses (Pierson 2004:6ff) see “European Union Council Decision of 8 March 2001” 2001. is – as a matter of fact – the European Union. as clear and measurable. for example.8 Another actor. Even though cuts in public spending on welfare could hardly be promoted considering the fact that Turkey has one of the lowest figures in state expenditure on social security.3. in its economic conditions enabling a country eventually to full membership. more and more efforts have been made by consecutive Turkish governments to reform the Turkish social security system and to tackle the problems discussed above.

a General Health Insurance system was introduced. A universal social assistence scheme on a rights-based approach. the EU does not say anything different from the IMF or the WB who have pointed out the necessity of social security reform for Turkey as part of their major general policy. the child poverty rate (below 6 years of age) is 34%. (EU. while this rate reaches almost 40% in rural areas. but sets it alongside the lived reality of life in Turkey: 1. while 25. the huge gap between average European and Turkish standards in welfare provision becomes clear once more. A due to the discussed labor market structure and the increasing problem of poverty very crucial point on the agenda could not yet be implemented. so characteristic for European countries. 2006: 54 in: Manning 2007: 492). away from what Buğra & Keyder have termed an “inegalitarian.29% of the population live below the hunger line. conditional on 16 . has not been approved yet. The percentage of the latter increased to 40% in the rural areas. Furthermore. The most extensive reform packages have been passed in 2006 and 2008 under the liberalconservative government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and signify an attempt to fight against the increasing indebtedness of social insurance agencies on the one hand and move towards a more universal scheme of social security. while most issues of concern to those at risk of poverty and social exclusion were largly neglected. The 2006 EU report praised the new 2006 legislation on social protection. corporatist regime. There were also. which aims at covering every citizen by providing basic health services. According to the same attempts to partially privatize social security. yet with 3-5% public allowances lay far under the figures of at least 20% in the European Union. It was harshly criticized that the reforms seemed to be strongly influenced by financial concerns (with the IMF as an influential political actor) as well as by the concerns of those already formally employed.” In 2006. bureaucratic centralization and a new institutional structure should integrate thereto existing institutions under a single roof and gather dispersed social benefits provided by several institutions (Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu). In an evaluation of the transformation process. Buğra and Keyder (2006) as well as Grütjen (2008) praise the reforms in the course of which the state starts to contribute to social security provision.6% live below the poverty line. But an official draft prepared by the AKP foresees the introduction of social assistance. even though not entirely new. which is foremost to decrease public expenditures .or in the case of Turkey: making sure that there will be no drastic increases (Elveren 2008: 221 ff).

Whereas European convergence in terms of welfare policies is to a large extend hindered by deeply rooted institutions and the ensuing high political and economic costs of restructuring.besides the often mentioned IMF and WB. “We do not want a social security reform imposed on us or ordered from us. Minister of Labour & Social Security.participation in productive activity and thus as well in line with the neoliberal views on social justice and its vision of an active and productive citizen. Whereas the economically motivated interest and recommendations of international financial institutions as well as of the European Union are clearly 17 . However we will like to enact a reform that is appropriate for our domestic dynamics” (Murat Baseskioglu. Christopher Pierson states that they have always been strongly influenced both by the example of developed welfare states elsewhere and by the promptings of international agencies . Where to converge to? A tentative conclusion. we are seeking a stable and sustainable social security system in accordance with the European Social Model where the experiences of IMF and World Bank can be valuable assets in the reform process. Turkey is highly mobile and may thus have freer choices which path to embark upon. the International Labor Organization plays a strong part (Pierson 2004: 2). very difficult to say whether Turkey’s process of welfare-transformation has been influenced by a distinct idea of a European Social Model. 2005) This paper showed that Turkey is facing social problems which derive from the historical legacy on the one hand and from processes of neoliberal transformation in the context of globalization on the other hand. The fact that social policies were never regarded as a crucial task of the government and the ensuing low degree of institutionalization leaves the incumbent government in a unique position. 4. In his analysis of late developing welfare states. It is. even if Murat Baseskioglu’s quotation from 2005 might suggest otherwise.

the open method of coordination or the deployment of incentives of “cognitive Europeanization” (such as participation in the European Social Fund. conceptualized as “cognitive Europeanization” of greater significance11.This process is also underlined by the entrance of “European” attitudes and perceptions about social issues and social problems and the best way to tackle them into the Turkish policy discourse. Elveren sees in his analysis no difference between the “European paradigm” and the “neoliberal paradigm” 11 10 Amongst others: Guillen & Pallier 18 . requiring the adaptation of a European social policy model or the compliance with EU conditions on social policy does not seem to play a big role I consider indirect pressure imposed by the EU on candidate countries. the European Social Model as a “soft factor” to a large part based on values. As already mentioned. Whereas a direct institutional impact. is much harder to retrace. The mentioned nonbinding recommendations.recognizable as a driving factor for reforms10. providing great amounts of money with the condition that it is applied in a specific framework). The changes in social policy in Turkey (as well as in other candidate countries) should be understood as an interaction between adaptive pressures coming from both the EU and international organizations and the capabilities and constraints of their interaction with domestic actors.

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