Civil Society Participation of NEET Youth in Turkey
Civil Society Participation: Civic participation of youth also remains critically low in Turkey. Similar to the findings in global literature, in Turkey as in other countries, a strong connection exists between low economic participation and low civil society participation. Civic participation among youth is lower in Turkey compared to European countries. While young people in Turkey have very low levels of civic engagement, NEET youth are even more disengaged. The largest difference between NEET youth and non- NEET youth is due to CSO membership. Volunteering (i.e. active participation) in the last month is already low among the youth in Turkey, and it is even lower for NEET youth. Among youth, civic engagement is higher among men, older youth, youth with higher education and youth living in wealthier households. Not being in employment, education or training negatively associated with civic engagement controlling for other individual and household characteristics.
An important measure of youth inactivity is related to social and civil society participation. While economic participation and educational attainment of youth is important for its dynamic and medium- to long-term impact on growth and income generation, social and community participation of youth is also important for maintaining that young people are active and engaged in society’s development and problem-solving around social issues.
High levels of unemployment and inactivity are associated with low levels of civic engagement, and civic engagement might act as a mediator both for achieving higher youth participation in civil society and also to activate youth through their transition from school to work.⁴⁵ Interventions through civil society may help to activate and to empower young people to achieve higher participation in civil society as well as being more active in transitioning from school to work, leading to better, faster and more secure job placements. Inclusive participation of youth in well-developed civil society also lead to better-performing communities and governments.⁴⁶
Civic participation of youth also remains critically low in Turkey. Several studies underline the fact that in Turkey, youth may be disengaged from civil society and community involvement. A nationally representative research study conducted among young people aged between 18 and 24, showed that 73 percent of young people did not have any membership in civil society organizations. Among those who have a link to a civil society organisation, 12 percent of them mentioned membership of student clubs in the universities, 6 percent of them mentioned association memberships, and 2 percent of them mentioned professional chambers.⁴⁷ Based on the same data (a nationally representative sample of 2,508 young people at age 18-24), young members of CSOs are more likely to be particularly university students. A UNDP study that collected data on 3,322 young people in the 15-24 age group in Turkey (in 2008) also has a similar finding that while on average civil society participation is about 4% in the sample, the level increases to 46% for university students and graduates. ⁴⁸
Similar to the findings in global literature, in Turkey as in other countries, a strong connection exists between low economic participation and low civil society participation. A more recent study by KONDA collected in 2011 from 2,366 young people in the age group 15-30, suggests that while civil society engagement is about 20 percent in this sample, among those who are out of employment, education or training (NEET), the level of engagement is much lower at 4.8 percent.⁴⁹ Low levels of social engagement, therefore, is likely to be correlated with low levels of economic engagement and with unemployment and NEET status.
Erdogan et al. (2017) examine the consequences of being NEET in terms of the trust, political participation and political efficacy (i.e. an empowerment module).⁵⁰ The authors find that both NEET women and men have lower trust to people in their immediate environment compared to non-NEET youth and young NEET women further have lower trust for other people outside their immediate circle while young NEET men were found to have similar trust levels with non-NEET men to the outer world. The findings were similar regarding political participation such that being NEET was negatively associated with political participation activities such as signing a petition, attending a peaceful demonstration or participating in a boycott. Political efficacy measured with questions like “to have many opportunities to turn the neighbourhood into a better place” and “to have the opportunity to work with other people in turning the neighbourhood into a better place” was also lower for NEET youth and especially for women.
As part of this report, we have analysed Time Use Survey 2015, a national level representative dataset, for looking at young people’s civic participation in Turkey.
The Time Use Survey (TUS) asks respondents if they have volunteered in the last month and if they are a member of a CSO. TUS 2015 survey includes detailed questions about volunteering in the last month and CSO membership. Volunteering to a variety of groups is questioned including social welfare groups, sports clubs, places of worship, political groups, youth groups, security/first-aid groups, environmentalist groups, justice/human rights groups, countrymen associations, hobby groups, parent-teacher associations, professional solidarity associations, and adult education groups. Hence volunteering in one of these groups in the last month is assumed as active participation in the analysis. CSO membership is also asked separately for nonprofit professional chambers, cooperatives and professional associations, unions, political parties, sports clubs, foundations, and associations.
Analysis of the Time Use 2015 data suggests that in Turkey civic participation of the population is already low. Only 15.4 percent of people aged 18 or more report being a member of a CSO or having participated in voluntary activity in the last month as opposed to 11.9 percent of the youth. Civic participation among youth is lower in Turkey compared to European countries. In Turkey overall, around 1 in every 10 people aged 18-29 are a member of a CSO or volunteer in a group.⁵¹ Even among non-NEET youth with university education civic participation is lower than 30 percent. In contrast, in European Union countries, civic participation among youth is much more common. According to the results of the Eurobarometer survey half of the youth (49 percent) aged 15-30 in EU-28 countries participate in some kind of organization including sports clubs, youth clubs, local organizations to improve the local community, political party or other types of NGOs.⁵²
The largest difference between NEET youth and non-NEET youth is due to
CSO membership. 12.8 percent of non-NEET youth have a CSO membership as opposed to 3.0 percent of NEET youth. This difference is mainly due to memberships in vocational CSOs like a union or a professional chamber. Naturally, vocational CSO membership is almost zero
for NEET youth as opposed to 5.9 percent among non-NEET youth. None of the NEET youth is members of a professional union or a professional cooperative or association. Yet a small percentage (0.4 percent) report being members of professional chambers. These vocational memberships are more common among non-NEET youth comparatively, yet still quite low.
Interestingly, while it is also quite uncommon being a member of a political party is the most popular CSO membership type among NEET youth. 2.0 percent of NEET youth report being a member of a political party as opposed to 3.1 percent of non-NEET youth. NEET youth are also less likely to be members of sports clubs, associations or foundations compared to non-NEET youth.
Volunteering (i.e. active participation) in the last month is already low among the youth in Turkey, and it is even lower for NEET youth. In Turkey 3.2 percent of people aged 18 or more report volunteering in the last month. Among youth 3.1 percent report volunteering while among NEET youth this rate is only 1.8 percent. ‘Helping at a place of worship’, ‘volunteering in security/first aid groups’, ‘social welfare groups’ and ‘parent-teacher associations’ are the most popular volunteering options among NEET youth.
None of the NEET youth report volunteering in a youth group, sports club, political party, environmentalist group, justice/human rights group, countrymen associations, hobby groups (amateur dramatics, photography associations, garden clubs, choirs, art associations, etc.) or adult education groups.
Among youth, civic engagement is higher among men, older youth, youth with higher education and youth living in wealthier households (See Figure 21). Young women are less likely to participate in civic activities. Among youth aged 18-29 years old, 15.2 percent of men have a CSO membership or are volunteering as opposed to 8.6 percent of women. Civic engagement increases with the level of education. While 5 percent of the youth with less than basic education are involved in these activities, with university graduates this rate reaches near 23 percent. Youth living in wealthier households are also more likely to participate. 5.7 percent of the youth living in the poorest households participate in these activities as opposed to 19.5 percent of youth living in richest households. Being older also increases civic engagement with 17.2 percent of 25-29-year olds reporting participation as opposed to 5.8 percent of 18-19-year-olds. Civic participation among NEET youth also increases with age, level of household wealth and level of education.
Not being in education or employment is negatively associated with civic engagement controlling for other individual and household characteristics. Regression results show that among youth, civic engagement is significantly less likely for NEET when controlling for other variables like gender, education and household wealth. Being NEET decreases the probability of civic engagement by 8.1 percentage points (See Annex Table 10 for the regression results). When looked separately being NEET decreases volunteering (i.e. active participation) by 1.2 percentage points and CSO membership by 7.8 percentage points. Overall being male, being older, having high school education or higher and household wealth are other variables that are significantly positively associated with civic engagement for youth. Having good health and household size is negatively associated with civic engagement. Those reporting mediocre health or lower might be more likely to be members of CSOs focusing efforts on health issues, or it might be picking up the effect of an omitted variable.
⁴⁵ Mauro & Mitra, 2015
⁴⁶ Camino & Zeldin, 2002
⁴⁷ Yilmaz & Oy, 2014
⁴⁸ UNDP, 2008
⁴⁹ KONDA, 2011
⁵⁰ Erdoğan et al., 2017
⁵¹ Turkish Statistical Institute, 2015
⁵² Eurostat, 2017