Turkey to reach ‘aging country’ category in 15-20 years

Turkey’s population is steadily growing older, and the country will be categorized as an “aging country” within the next 15-20 years, recent figures from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) indicate.

The share of the population consisting of young people is shrinking, while the share of the elderly is on the rise. In 1990, 35 percent of the population consisted of children aged 0-14, though that share fell to 29.8 percent in 2000, and further, to 24.3 percent, by the end of 2014.

Those aged 15-64 accounted for 67.8 percent of the population at the end of last year, while those 65 and older made up 8 percent of the population. TurkStat projections indicate that the elderly segment of the population will make up 10 percent in 2023, 20 percent by 2050 and 27.7 percent in 2075. If these projections are proven correct, by 2075 24.7 million of Turkey’s forecasted population of 89.1 million will be elderly.

At present, population growth rates stand at 2.17 percent, while that number is expected to decline to 1.65 percent by 2050. High birth rates are currently only being observed in certain eastern provinces of the country, where it is common for families to have eight or more children.

Late last year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his desire for married couples to help the economy by having more than one child, calling birth control an act of “treason” aimed at weakening Turkey.

“We need a qualified population. We will never ignore this. If we want this nation to go beyond the level of contemporary civilization, this nation needs to be strong. In economics, there is a rule: young means dynamic,” Erdogan said at a wedding ceremony in December. “They carried out a treasonous act that is birth control, and they attempted to render us extinct.”

Erdogan has long called on married couples to have at least three children, sometimes encouraging women to have as many as four, saying that this is necessary to maintain economic growth. He has noted in the past that Turkey’s annual population growth rate should be at least 2.5 percent, and that if the country continues with the existing trend, its population would rapidly become an aging one after the 2030s. Erdogan has also linked aging populations and low birth rates in European countries to economic recession.