Thinking Aloud: Poised for the Future, Turkey

Oct. 12,  2014 by Darius 

[Two months ago, I introduced my Poised for the Future Index, a metric which combines improvements in a country’s levels of educational attainment, its corruption levels, and its political stability to identify countries that seem positioned for strong economic growth in the future.  Seehttps://notwhatyoumightthink.wordpress.com/2014/08/31/thinking-aloud-poised-for-the-future-a-new-growth-index/ for more information.]

Today, I will discuss the final country that does well on the Poised for the Future Index, a country that, unlike the others, has been in the news a lot lately: Turkey.

Turkey’s education system underwent its biggest makeover during the period of Westernization and modernization under the founding father of Turkey, Kemal Ataturk.  Recently, though, Turkey’s education has taken another big step forward: though less dramatic than Ataturk’s revolution, Turkey’s education system has improved by more than 21% since 2005, according to UN statistics.

Corruption in Turkey, while an ongoing concern, is quite low: Transparency International ranks it as the 53rd least corrupt country in the world, better than many other countries on the Poised for the Future Index and far better than its EU neighbor to the west, Greece.

Politically, Turkey is a democracy, though there have been some worrying signs of a slide into greater authoritarianism under Prime Minister (and now President) Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Freedom House rates Turkey as “partly free,” due to a lack of press freedom, among other things.

Turkey receives a score of 74.1 on the Fragile States Index, worse than the other countries in the Poised for the Future Index.  Turkey’s relatively poor showing on the Fragile States Index is largely due to events outside Turkey’s borders.  The conflict in Syria has driven hundreds of thousands of refugees into Turkey, many of whom are likely to stay indefinitely.  Of more immediate concern is the militant group ISIS in nearby Iraq and Syria.  Battles are being fought just hundreds of yards from the Turkish border, and Turkey’s immediate neighborhood is likely to be destabilized for years to come.

Over the last 15 years, though, economic growth has been strong and consistent.  If Turkey can avoid being destabilized by surrounding turmoil,  it will be well-placed to make the most of the 21st century and even beyond.

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