Pious Populists at the Gate
42 Pages Posted: 18 Apr 2017
Date Written: April 2017
In this paper, I evaluate the economic track record of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, using the synthetic control method (SCM). This methodology compares the post‐AKP development trajectory of Turkey with that of a weighted combination of similar but untreated countries. The SCM is particularly useful in this setting as it allows construction of a synthetic control to Turkey that replicates the pre‐AKP development dynamics. I find that Turkey under AKP grew no faster in terms of GDP per capita when compared with a synthetic counterpart from a wide pool of other countries. Restricting the pool of control units to only include Muslim countries shows Turkey growing slower than its Muslim counterparts. Moreover, analysis of post‐crisis recovery periods shows Turkey growing no faster than comparable post‐crisis cases across time. However, expanding the outcome set to health and education reveals large positive differences in both infant and maternal mortality as well as university enrolment, consistent with stated AKP policies to improve access to health and education sectors for the relatively poorer segments of the population. Nonetheless, increased access in these fields is not matched by improved labour market access, as both labour force participation as well as unemployment have deteriorated, and especially so for women. As for measures of institutions, I fail to find any durable positive differences in measures related to democracy or human rights early on during the post‐intervention period, and in several instances there is evidence of significant declines over the long run. A particularly salient feature of the AKP's reign is reduced political power of the military, consistent with the military in Turkey receiving lower economic rents than its synthetic counterpart during AKP's reign.
Keywords: synthetic control method, economic growth, Turkey
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