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Higher Education in Turkey: Subsidizing the Rich or the Poor?


  • Caner, Asena

    () (TOBB University of Economy and Technology)

  • Okten, Cagla

    () (Bilkent University)


We investigate how the benefits of publicly financed higher education in Turkey are distributed among students with different socioeconomic backgrounds. We use a unique dataset from a nationally representative sample of university entrance exam takers together with data on government subsidies to public universities. We compare the characteristics of students who succeed in the exam to those who do not and those who enter public universities to those who go to private ones. Our econometric analyses based on a three-stage selection model reveal that students from wealthier and more educated families are more likely to be successful at university entrance. Unlike the findings in other countries, students who enroll in private universities come from higher income and more educated families. However, among those who enter public universities, students from higher income and more educated families are more likely to go to universities that receive larger subsidies from the government.

Suggested Citation

  • Caner, Asena & Okten, Cagla, 2012. "Higher Education in Turkey: Subsidizing the Rich or the Poor?," IZA Discussion Papers 7011, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7011

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tansel, AysIt & Bircan, Fatma, 2006. "Demand for education in Turkey: A tobit analysis of private tutoring expenditures," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 303-313, June.
    2. Gonzalez Rozada, Martin & Menendez, Alicia, 2002. "Public university in Argentina: subsidizing the rich?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 341-351, August.
    3. Liu, Jin-Tan & Chou, Shin-Yi & Liu, Jin-Long, 2006. "Asymmetries in progression in higher education in Taiwan: Parental education and income effects," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 647-658, December.
    4. Aysit Tansel & Fatma Bircan, 2005. "Effect of Private Tutoring on University Entrance Examination Performance in Turkey," ERC Working Papers 0504, ERC - Economic Research Center, Middle East Technical University, revised Jun 2005.
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    1. repec:sos:sosjrn:180106 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Frisancho, Veronica & Krishna, Kala & Lychagin, Sergey & Yavas, Cemile, 2016. "Better luck next time: Learning through retaking," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 120-135.
    3. Kala Krishna & Sergey Lychagin & Verónica Frisancho Robles, 2015. "Retaking in High Stakes Exams: Is Less More?," NBER Working Papers 21640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Polat, Sezgin, 2016. "Some Economic Consequences of Higher Education Expansion in Turkey," MPRA Paper 72602, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Akyol, Pelin & Krishna, Kala, 2017. "Preferences, selection, and value added: A structural approach," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 89-117.
    6. Sezgin Polat & Jean-Jacques Paul, 2016. "How to predict university performance: a case study from a prestigious Turkish university?," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 11,in: José Manuel Cordero Ferrera & Rosa Simancas Rodríguez (ed.), Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 11, edition 1, volume 11, chapter 22, pages 423-434 Asociación de Economía de la Educación.
    7. S. Pelin Akyol & Verónica Frisancho & Kala M. Krishna & Cemile Yavas, 2013. "Preferences, Selection, and Value Added: A Structural Approach Applied to Turkish Exam High Schools," CESifo Working Paper Series 4302, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item


    higher education; public finance of higher education; Turkey; education; government subsidies;

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • H4 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods
    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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