Turkish population aging: Was Erdoğan’s call for 3 children ignored?

Developed countries around the world are experiencing a serious population decline. In countries such as Japan, Germany, Italy and many other European nations, an aging population significantly impacts social life and the economy. However, the most important factor keeping countries afloat is the young population.

While the world is aging, Türkiye has taken pride in its young population for years. As Turks, we even believed that if we were admitted to the European Union one day, it would be due to this demographic advantage. However, this is no longer the case. According to 2023 statistics, the fertility rate (number of babies per woman) was 1.51. This rate was 1.63 in the previous year. To maintain a stable population, this ratio needs to be 2.1. Since 2001, there has been a rapid downward trend, when the fertility rate was 2.38, which was above the rate required for the population to replenish itself. The current rate of 1.51 is even lower than the United States rate of 1.61.

If the current trend continues, the country will soon resemble Germany and Japan. Recently, the Turkish nation’s sensitivity toward the immigration problem has become clearly evident. Consequently, production will need to be cut, and operations will be downsized due to a lack of workers available from the native population. This decline will also impact military power, as military service relies on a young population. So, how did we come to this situation?

Roots of Türkiye’s population decline

The first reason is that modern society no longer wants children. There are also problems such as living costs among the reasons, but the main reason is more related to personal preferences. Otherwise, the Japanese and Germans would have more children because of good economic conditions. The second reason, which is unique to our country, was the efforts to prevent population growth under the name of population planning, which aims to reduce the number of births. Some may say that population planning was necessary when the country was poor since the distribution of resources was a serious problem, but as the economic conditions improve, it is obvious that the decrease in population harms the country. The current situation is undoubtedly the result of population planning implemented in the past.

If you ask people on the street, there will still be those who support population planning, unaware of the impending danger it poses to the country. Some oppose it merely because President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan advocated for having at least three children. However, time has proven that the president foresaw this issue ahead of others and called for necessary measures. His proactive stance underscores his patriotism and deep concern for the nation.

On the contrary, those who oppose him often seem to view the country’s affairs through a lens of bigotry. In the past, they accused the Turkish president of misogyny, alleging that he only saw women as child bearers. They falsely claimed that Erdoğan was shirking men’s responsibility in reproduction and unfairly burdening women, thereby distorting the concept of gender equality. Their behavior was absurd.

Due to such bigoted and biased attitudes from the opposition, Türkiye faces a serious population problem. Sadly, this thoughtlessness will likely persist until the problem escalates to alarming proportions. Just recently, a so-called journalist suggested that the Arab population in Türkiye would outnumber the Turkish population by 2050. Strangely, when Erdoğan advocated for three children, they also opposed him. We fear that this critical-only group will ultimately shorten the country’s life span.

On the other hand, since Erdoğan’s call was disregarded by all of us, we all share responsibility in this matter. This implies that we may be hastening the demise of our country with our own actions. We urgently need to address our declining population, but it appears we are unwilling to do so. In other words, we are reluctant to have more children, akin to smokers who continue despite knowing the harm it causes.

Source: Daily Sabah

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