Turkish Welfare Regime in Its Current Transformation

Burcu Yakut Çakar
Boğaziçi University Department of Economics
Graduation Date: 
Ayşe Buğra
Turkish Welfare Regime in Its Current Transformation

This thesis aims to highlight the transformation of the existing welfare regime of Turkey in response to the challenge of new poverty. Using a political economy framework theoretically based on three worlds of welfare regimes typology of Esping-Andersen (1990) expanded with the introduction of Southern European model as fourth, it is shown that all regimes have experienced serious challenges while their responses to these varied significantly. By accepting that Turkish welfare regime is a variant of Southern European model in terms of its character of formal social security system, labor market structures and the centrality of the family, it is argued that the Southern European model has transformed in response not only to challenges but also to the integration to European Union. Considering the labor market structures, increasing informality and the changes taking place within family and kinship network in Turkey, the Solidarity Fund is crucial as the sole state mechanism to fill the social protection gap, which is manifested with the existence of new forms of poverty. The current reforms in Turkey aiming to univeralize the health care services and to restructure the pension systems are evaluated as the transformation of the Turkish regime following the same path as Southern countries especially when the prospective European Union integration is considered. The integration process merits attention in shaping the evolution of the Fund towards possibly a minimum income scheme.