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


whereas cuts in public spending and especially in welfare are discussed and promoted in most European countries. social and political questions and predicaments generally associated with the notion of globalization. Introduction This paper provides a case study of the Turkish welfare regime in a comparative perspective. Thus. even mirror the vision of how the European Union pictures its future welfare states to be? 3 . Turkey is in a different position. 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 a country positioned at the periphery of geographical as well as political Europe. Many scholars. A formal welfare regime is yet to be constructed and even though the struggle for greater efficiency certainly plays a role. emerged from a state tradition interlinked with European countries yet highly distinct from them at the same time. 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. however. 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. In the framework of the accession negotiations with the European Union. still highly mobile as to its low degree of institutionalization and allegedly being influenced by European ideas. Might Turkey. see the welfare state currently under sever attack by the continuing promotion of a neoliberal agenda as well as by economical. Turkey. As will be shown.1. Having its origins in industrialization and the rise of social tensions. Turkey provides a very interesting and distinct example of welfare regimes in transition. The prevailing perception in the literature describes the welfare state as a European invention. it has come to be a highly institutionalized component of European state tradition. Public spending on welfare is among the lowest in the OECD countries. 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). Even though political concepts of modernization and westernization have shaped the path Turkey has taken over the last century.

The conservative narrative. 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. meanwhile. In the conclusion the question will be discussed whether Turkey converges towards a “European Social Model. Whereas the formerly critical social democracy has come to identify itself with the welfare state. The dominant narrative within the literature discussing the development of welfare states considers the welfare state as a European and a capitalist invention. An evaluation of the historical legacies of state-society and state-market traditions. Emphasis will be put on outlining the debate about divergences and trends of convergence among European welfare regimes. regards welfare as an unaffordable social cost and as having a detrimental impact on individual morality and motivation.Considering this rather broad conceptual question. 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. 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. 4 . 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. 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.” 2. 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. 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 discussion about the welfare states origins and its aims has never ebbed away and is reaching in fact new peaks. Still. welfare provision by the state has come to be seen as an essential part of modern states. In the meantime.

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. fourth type. countries are growing more alike. the emergence of post-industrial service economies. 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. and the Scandinavian model where a universal approach based on equal citizenship is of great importance for the design of social policies. Later. Gelissen. 137-159 5 1 . a forth type based on special characteristics of southern-European countries was added to EspingAndersons typology1. Wil. and changing labour markets state policies in the light of enhanced international competition (Buğra & Keyder 2003: 12 ff). Concerning the critique on EspingAndersons typology see: Arts. all models faced. pp. As the Turkish welfare regime is usually categorized within that last. Myles & Pierson 2001: 312 ff). John (2002) Three worlds of welfare capitalism or more? A state-of-the-art report in: Journal of European Social Policy 12.Notwithstanding this ongoing and crucial debate. there are two ideas dominating the current discourse about the laws behind the development of welfare states. the second idea is that with modernization. flexible production patterns replacing the Fordist production system. which is institutionalized on the basis of employment and the supporting role of the family. it shall be discussed more thoroughly at a later point. and the labor market play in sustaining the livelihood of the individual in society (Grütjen 2008: 113). the family. Thus. the convergence thesis argues that gradually welfare states tend to converge with each other. In alleged contrast. the conservative model. Esping-Anderson introduced this concept and defined three types of welfare regime in developed Western countries: the market-oriented Anglo-Saxon model. 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. 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.

it is exactly the question connected to this assumption which is crucial. Labour Party. it just raises the blood pressure“ (Anna Diamantopoulou – Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs. agreement between the 27 member states in terms of social policies to define a relative coherent European Social Model.e. 6 . i. Besides alleged institutional obstacles opposed to the implementation of more stringent common social policies on a European level. Convergence is hence perceived as leading towards a kind of “neo-liberal welfare state” (Achterberg 2009: 4). 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. A strong narrative is that generous social provision in the context of global economic change represents an unaffordable luxury for advanced industrial societies. 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. 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.1 The European Social Model „For some in the EU the expression „European Social Model“ evokes warm feelings of social justice and solidarity.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. For others. On the other hand. 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. Within that context. 2.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.” As bureaucratic and legal question are of immense complexity.

Until today. While at the national level economic policy and policies concerning social protection still have more or less the same constitutional status. liberalizing state-owned industries and infrastructure functions. National welfare states are constitutionally constrained by the “supremacy” of all European rules of economic integration. the European integration process was foremost concerned with removing tariff barriers. Yet. As a consequence of that imbalance and the great diversity of welfare regimes among the 27 EU member states. policy recommendations and joint commitments to certain values than by accountable law (to use this neoliberal jargon). even though a European Social Model is currently much more defined by soft law. Politically. Russia or Latin America but it is also presented as a necessary counterweight to the process of economic integration (Manning 2007: 493). 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. 7 . 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. it is foremost used to highlight common European patterns in contrast to those in the USA. 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). rigidly constraining public sector deficits of its member states. eliminating national control over exchange rates and monetary policy and finally. it is used in White Papers of the European Commission as a concept and is constant object of discussion. with the very important stability and growth pact. The heterogeneity of welfare states increased with each new member state.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. liberalization and competition law.). 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. the European integration process has created a blatant “constitutional asymmetry” between policies promoting market efficiencies and policies promoting social protection and equality.

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”. information and consultation. “essential services and an income that enables every individual to live in dignity. collective redundancy).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.europa. it tries to improve these through promoting common objectives and common indicators and through comparative evaluations of national policy performance. charters and international agreements. “improved living and working conditions” … “proper social protection”. equal treatment. social security and social assistance. “guaranteeing fundamental human rights”. equality between men and women or trade union rights. or in the “social acquis” as part of the acquis communautaire defining “obligations” in the framework of individual employment (contracts and relationships of employment. “dialogue between management and labor” or “the development of human resources with a view to lasting high employment and the combating of exclusion. 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”.” The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights includes chapters on freedoms. health and safety at work) and collective labor relations (worker representation. While leaving effective policy choices at the national level. equality and solidarity.General objectives in terms of social policy and the vision of a “Social Europe” have been formulated in many treaties.etuc. discrimination. The treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) set down fundamental social objectives such as the “promotion of employment”. rights to fair and just working conditions. 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. in the Lisbon European Council in 8 .do?uri=OJ:C:2010:083:SOM:EN:HTML (accessed: 5 June 2010) 3 2 The European Trade Union Confederation on the European Social Model: http://www.

as a model. 3. reminds as in fact of the neoliberal jargon in its “third way-design”. 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. as well as the level of economic development. 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. tradition. In its whole design to stress the coexistence and in fact interdependence of “economic growth” and “social justice”4 and “competitiveness” and “solidarity”. it has. ideology. After a short overview over Turkey’s recent economic history under the influence of globalization and neoliberalism.2. A short evaluation of the recent reforms will be made in order to be able to define a “direction” of Turkish social policies. Even if the term “European Social Model” escapes precise definition. the emphasis will be put on sketching the Turkish Welfare regime in its broad characteristics as well as on defining the biggest challenges. Similar to expressions such as “European Union” or “Common Foreign and Security Policy”. 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. “anticipatory” and “aspirational” character (Diamantopoulou 2003: 3). as Scharpf has stated. The following evaluation of the Turkish welfare regime and the recent reforms of the social security system shall thus take into account both. 4 As a neoliberal term 9 .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. the character of a European Social Model seems to be relatively distinct. a blatant “constitutional asymmetry” between social and economic regulations and legislation. While there is indeed. and even though it tends to conceal the vast differences between the 27 member welfare states. The Turkish Welfare Regime: The structure and expansion of welfare states depends on socioeconomic factors.

Most prominent among them.” Cambridge University Press. Cem Utku (2009) Social Security Reform in Turkey: Different usages of Europe in shaping the national welfare reform 7 6 5 10 .1. the emergence of neoliberalism did not come along with calls to “dismantle the welfare state. 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. Daniel (2009) The Turkish Welfare Regime: An Example of the Southern European Model? The Role of the State.7 In the following. Steps of privatization and liberalization had been incremental and always accompanied by severe political tensions. With reference to Esping-Andersons typology. 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. 111 – 129. „Dismantling the Welfare State“ is an expression frequently used in the literature to refer to the impact of neoliberal policies on the welfare states.3. a move connected to its most prominent and radical precursors Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain and Ronald Reagan in the USA. Duyulmus. See for example Grütjen. to provide some safety mechanism against social contingencies (inability to earn income when sick or old). Very different from most European countries. pp. Thatcher and the politics of Retrenchment. Cambridge. vol. 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. Politiy Press. Turkey has until then had a long tradition of etatism. and ensure some equality concerning social services” (Asa Briggs in: Elveren 2008: 213).”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. however. Paul Pierson (1996) “Dismantling the Welfare State? Reagan. Cambridge. pp. Different attempts have been made to classify Turkey’s welfare regime. 55-139. Market and Family in Welfare Provision in: Turkish Policy quarterly. a large public sector and high figures of state-owned enterprises. we will make use of a terminology provided by Elveren on the one hand and Buğra & Keyder on the other. 7 no. Turkey is usually classified as belonging to the SouthernEuropean type.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.

Keyder 2006: 211). the money earned. Whereas many family members migrate to cities. as one possible provider of welfare along with the market and informal networks. is attributed (as a matter of fact. is often a contribution to the family’s 11 . 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. Wheras Elverens terminology hints at the fact that the state. priviledging particular interests. 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. subordinate role. Greece or Portugal. 3.which has also been widely discussed as being part other Soutern-European countries such as Spain. does not exist. Buğra & Keyder stress the problem inherent in an inegalitarian system. it attributes itself) a small. The characteristics of the Turkish welfare regime which lie behind both terms shall be topic of this chapter. the current system cannot achieve coverage for a sufficiant part of the Turkish population.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). predominantly through informal employment. “possibilities of informal housing” and foremost the importance of family and neighborhood assistance mechanisms” (B&K 2006: 220). Elveren refers to Turkey –being a “developing country” – as an “indirect and minimalist welfare regime” (Elveren 2008: 214). 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. Considering the widespread assessment that industrialized and democratic states need a broad welfare regime to reproduce itself. 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. A universal social assistance scheme tied to citizenship as existent in most European countries. Buğra & Keyder meanwhile use the term “inegalitarian corporatist welfare regime”(Buğra.

The second factor might be called – in Elveren’s words – an indirect provision of welfare by the state. Before the 1980s. agricultural policies that have contributed to the survival of small family farms. the family continues to be regarded as the key element of the Turkish welfare system. “traditional” channels of welfare provision (World Bank 2005 in Grütjen 2008: 3). Through eventual formalization of those occupied spaces they also became owners of land and real estate. urban immigrants had the possibility to occupy public land in the periphery of cities. That means at the same time that many urban immigrants can still rely on mutual forms of assistance being provided by the family. 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. 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. 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. 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. In spite of those developments. Being 12 .common income. These so-called gecekondu were furthermore “mechanisms” that could transfer whole networks of family and neighborhood from the countryside into the city. they were not only “provided” with free housing. sickness or age (Buğra 2003: 56ff). however. Buğra & Keyder. Thus. Even though family and neighborhood assistance also practically continues to be an important source of social security. 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). 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. The official “moral legitimacy” the gecekondu had enjoyed. thus disposing of a source of wealth and social security. thus maintaining a system of informal mutual assistance and social security. The state for a long time having been an “employer of last resort” with its state-owned enterprises.

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. poverty in various forms. the figures people employed in the informal labor market increased significantly.” 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). providing social protection to a small minority of the population formerly employed in the public or industrial sector. the state did not provide formal protection against risk categories such as sickness or age. In many different areas. 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 already mentioned form of “inegalitarian corporatism” developed. 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.7% (Grütjen 2008: 3). has come to be seen as one of the major challenges to the Turkish welfare state. liberalization but also a new type of urbanization. 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. in turn immense financial strains on the long-term financing of the slowly transforming social security system. This puts. Whereas on average 56% of women in the EU 27 were employed in 2005. Turkey counted not more than 23. As in many developing countries. but rather provided formal employment opportunities in state owned enterprises or indirectly in state-protected private sector enterprises. With the breaking away of state-provided employment. 13 . Today. With the erosion of informal welfare provision. though not a new phenomenon. to hard competition from abroad and to the logic of international finance. Turkey – to use a political jargon – “lacks behind” in terms of tackling those challenges and social problems. the World Bank estimates that about half of the Turkish labor force works in the informal sector. The World Economic Forum ranked Turkey 105 among 115 countries in terms of equal opportunities of women on the labor market. 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.

Considering current demographic developments. Only in the USA and in Mexico less people are covered by the public health care system. 37% does not have any entitlement to pensions. High indebtedness of social insurance agencies The main reason is to be found in the structure of the Turkish labor market. Only those services which are offered in the framework of social insurances are connected to legal entitlements. 2. 3. 1.5 % of the Turkish population is covered by health care insurances. have a highly volatile character (Grütjen 2008: 4ff) 14 . Only 41% of the Turks older than 65 receive payments out of pension insurance schemes. while the Food Poverty line defined by the World Bank was 85 TL). the World Bank published figures around 67%. People employed in the informal labor market do not pay premiums yet most of them are insured passively with the head of the household. Unequal distribution of social services This aspect underlines what Buğra & Keyder have termed as „inegalitarian corporatist regime. respectively which the Turkish social security system is not able to tackle. Every other services. a great part of the Turkish population has to pay for medical care by themselves. Turkey might be facing serious problems. Four main deficits of the Turkish social system can be defined. About 22% are entitled to a minimum pension (65 TL in 2005. 4. Thus. Whereas officially 84. Non-existence of universal social rights connected to citizenship Social assistance schemes connected to citizenship do not yet exist.“ Different social insurance agencies each tending a specific clientele offer different services and thus solidify inequality within the population. for example offered by social institutions funded by the state. Insufficient coverage of the population: This deficit refers to the quota of people who are covered as well as to the benefits payed.3.3 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.

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. It has already been stated at the beginning that the European agenda concerning member states as well as accession countries is strongest. as clear and measurable. 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. for example.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“. emphasis shall be put on the environment in which those changes have been discussed. mainly by promoting well-known third-way means. repositioning itself on the issue of social policy and development and paying great attention to “attacking poverty”. more encompassing than the IMF and the World Bank. Turkey was required to “ensure the sustainability of the pension and social security system” as a part of economic criteria. Turkey has been strongly influenced in its entire political course by different international actors. is – as a matter of fact – the European Union.4 Turkey’s welfare regime in transition . in its economic conditions enabling a country eventually to full membership. In the Council Decisions in 2001 and 2003. Even though some of the recent reforms will be discussed briefly. 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 security reform: Since the turn of the millennium. 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. stressing non-state and community responses (Pierson 2004:6ff) see “European Union Council Decision of 8 March 2001” 2001. “European Union Council Decision of 19 May 2003” 2003 9 8 15 .8 Another actor. 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).

support. which aims at covering every citizen by providing basic health services. There were also. 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.29% of the population live below the hunger line. the child poverty rate (below 6 years of age) is 34%.or in the case of Turkey: making sure that there will be no drastic increases (Elveren 2008: 221 ff). 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. 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. has not been approved yet. which is foremost to decrease public expenditures . conditional on 16 . But an official draft prepared by the AKP foresees the introduction of social assistance. 2006: 54 in: Manning 2007: 492). yet with 3-5% public allowances lay far under the figures of at least 20% in the European Union. a General Health Insurance system was introduced. the huge gap between average European and Turkish standards in welfare provision becomes clear once more.” In 2006. while most issues of concern to those at risk of poverty and social exclusion were largly neglected. Furthermore. even though not entirely new. (EU. attempts to partially privatize social security. The percentage of the latter increased to 40% in the rural areas. A universal social assistence scheme on a rights-based approach. while 25. 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.6% live below the poverty line. In an evaluation of the transformation process. 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). but sets it alongside the lived reality of life in Turkey: 1. so characteristic for European countries. while this rate reaches almost 40% in rural areas. According to the same study. 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. The 2006 EU report praised the new 2006 legislation on social protection. corporatist regime. away from what Buğra & Keyder have termed an “inegalitarian.

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. even if Murat Baseskioglu’s quotation from 2005 might suggest otherwise. 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 . 4. very difficult to say whether Turkey’s process of welfare-transformation has been influenced by a distinct idea of a European Social Model. “We do not want a social security reform imposed on us or ordered from us. the International Labor Organization plays a strong part (Pierson 2004: 2). In his analysis of late developing welfare states.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. It is. Minister of Labour & Social Security. However we will like to enact a reform that is appropriate for our domestic dynamics” (Murat Baseskioglu. 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. Where to converge to? A tentative conclusion.besides the often mentioned IMF and WB. Whereas the economically motivated interest and recommendations of international financial institutions as well as of the European Union are clearly 17 . 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. 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.

providing great amounts of money with the condition that it is applied in a specific framework). 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.recognizable as a driving factor for reforms10. Elveren sees in his analysis no difference between the “European paradigm” and the “neoliberal paradigm” 11 10 Amongst others: Guillen & Pallier 18 . the European Social Model as a “soft factor” to a large part based on values. conceptualized as “cognitive Europeanization” of greater significance11. is much harder to retrace. The mentioned nonbinding recommendations. the open method of coordination or the deployment of incentives of “cognitive Europeanization” (such as participation in the European Social Fund.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. 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. Whereas a direct institutional impact. As already mentioned.

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