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Double squeeze on educational development: land inequality and ethnic conflict in Southeastern Turkey

Listed author(s):
  • Oyvat, Cem
  • Tekgüç, Hasan

This paper examines two structural factors that have restricted educational development in Southeastern Turkey: land inequality and ethnic fractionalization/conflict. Until recently a semi-feudal structure persisted in the region with politically and economically powerful tribal leaders and large landowners called ağas. At the same time, the region has been the site of an ethnic conflict, which has been ongoing as an armed insurgency for over 30 years between Kurdish insurgents and the Turkish State. Using a province-level data set, we test the impact of land inequality, conflict and ethnicity on education investment and school enrollment for the period 1970-2012. We find that higher land inequality reduces the school enrollment rates due to budget constraints imposed on poorer households. However, the economic and political power of ağas in the region does not block education investments. Moreover, we find that although the armed conflict in the region did not directly hinder education investments, it did reduce school enrollment rates at middle and high school levels, while increasing enrollment at the primary school level. Finally, we find that provinces with higher percentages of Kurdish population received less education investment even after controlling for conflict and land inequality. These results suggest that high land inequality and the Turkish State’s neglect of Kurdish areas were the important factors behind Southeastern Turkey’s educational underdevelopment, while the conflict had mixed effects on the education in the region.

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Paper provided by University of Greenwich, Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre in its series Greenwich Papers in Political Economy with number 16812.

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Date of creation: 24 Apr 2017
Handle: RePEc:gpe:wpaper:16812
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