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Harnessing the Power of Youth

An Analysis of Youth Not-in-Employment, Education or Training (NEET) in Turkey and Policies and Civil Society Models that Promote Active Youth Engagement

This research study was conducted within the scope of the “Enhancing Advocacy Capacities of Youth CSOs in Turkey: Guiding CSOs through Research” project jointly executed by Development Analytics and the Young Guru Academy (YGA). This project is financed within the scope of second phase of "Civil Society Support Programme" which is supported by EU and coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate for EU Affairs. The report aims to contribute to the analytical and academic evidence base on the issue of youth, not in employment, education or training in Turkey, as well as to provide a stocktake of available models of youth empowerment from existing CSOs and to highlight these models to a policy audience.



Key Findings


  • Turkey has a significant youth inactivity problem, defined mainly along gender lines, but also linked to youth unemployment. With more than a quarter of young people, not in employment, education or training, the country not only misses out on a potential source of growth and income (estimated at 2.37-3.15% of GDP in this report) but also reduces the chances of these young people to take part in vibrant social and economic activity at the beginning of their productive lives.  

  • Over a quarter of young people in Turkey are neither in employment nor in education or training. Three-quarters of NEET youth in Turkey are women, hence gender is an important determinant of NEET status. In certain regions of Turkey, particularly in the south-east, the NEET rate of women increases significantly (to more than ¾ of young women in certain areas).  

  • Education is an important determinant and driver of non-NEET status, especially for women. Household wealth is also correlated with lower levels of NEET but the correlation is smaller. 

  • The share of NEET increases among young women with age, while it decreases among young men. Life events, such as marriage and having children also change NEET rates in opposing directions for men and women, with young women being more likely to become NEET once they are married and have children. Most NEET men live with their parents while the majority of NEET young women are married. 

  • Time-use patterns of NEET youth women reveal that they are mainly busy with household chores and care activities and they have very little ‘idle’ time for leisure activities, unlike young NEET men, who spend the majority of their time in leisure. 

  • Most NEET youth have worked before, and have some connection to the labour market, however for women with lower than university degree attainment, the attachment to the labour market is very weak, with most of them not looking to return to work due to household chores and care activities.  

  • Young people in Turkey, have very low levels of civic engagement and NEET youth are likely to be even more disengaged from civil society activities. While only 10% of youth have a CSO membership, this level is only at 3% for NEET youth. In general, civic engagement is higher among men, youth with higher education and youth living in wealthier households.  Hence, while civil society might be an actor in helping solve the NEET problem by providing action models for empowerment, they cannot be expected to be in a position of addressing the NEET problem of Turkey, as civil society has a very low level of engagement with the target group.



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