Children in Turkey have vastly different odds of success. Their paths are affected by factors over which they have no control, such as how wealthy or educated their parents-and even grandparents-are. By investing in its children and youth, Turkey can create a virtuous cycle whereby these children and youth contribute more to their country's economic growth and social development, helping to realize its ambitious goals.
Written to contribute to the public policy debate, Life Chances in Turkey: Expanding Opportunities for the Next Generation notes that girls are at a particular disadvantage. Compared with a boy born to well-off, highly educated parents in one of the urban centers of the country's west, a girl born in a remote eastern village to poor parents with primary school degrees is four times as likely to suffer from low birth weight, one-third as likely to be immunized, and ten times a likely to have her growth stunted as a result of malnutrition. She has a one-in-five chance of completing high school, whereas the boy will likely attend college.
With child development trajectories thus diverging early in life, pro-equity policies should focus on reaching the most disadvantaged children early, ideally before birth. Turkey, with the active involvement of nongovernmental organizations, has piloted a number of highly successful programs to reach and support disadvantaged children. But it can do more: only 6 percent of the country's total public social spending reaches children below the age of six. About four times more is spent on a middle-aged or elderly person than on a child.
Life Chances finds that if today's under-40 Turkish adults had all benefited from one year of preschool education when they were 6 years old, family incomes could be up to 8 percent higher, one-tenth of poor families would not live in poverty today, and about 9 percent more women-in other words, millions-could be working or looking actively for a job.
Table of Contents
The State of Equality of Opportunities in Turkey 2
From Grandparents to Grandchildren 3
Child Development and Child Risks 5
Expanding Opportunities for the Next Generation 7
Chapter 1 Introduction 13
Chapter 2 Equity Aspirations 17
Chapter 3 The State of Equality of Opportunity in Turkey 23
Inequality of Economic Opportunity 24
Inequality of Opportunity for Educational Achievement 30
Grandparents and Grandchildren 31
Chapter 4 Child Development and Child Risks 39
Child Poverty 39
Child Poverty and Opportunity Groups 41
International Comparisons 46
Chapter 5 Expanding Opportunities for the Next Generation: Early Childhood Development Policies 51
ECD: Why and How? 52
ECD Policies and Programs in Turkey 54
Private and Community Provision 55
Governance and Coordination 57
Coverage and Reach among Disadvantaged Children 57
Public Funding 60
Early Childhood Development Benefits 63
Chapter 6 Reflections 71
Technical Appendix 75
5.1 International Benchmarking League Table for Early Childhood Development 53
5.2 Community-Based ECD Provision in Turkey 56