DP15304 Regional Inequalities and the West-East Divide in Turkey since 1880

Author(s): Günes Asik, Ulas Karakoç, Sevket Pamuk
Publication Date: September 2020
Date Revised: September 2020
Keyword(s): Ethnic Conflict, Industrialization, Ottoman Empire, Regional Development, Regional inequalities, Turkey
JEL(s): N14, N15, N94, N95, O18, O53, O54, R12
Programme Areas: Development Economics, Economic History
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=15304

This study examines the evolution of regional income inequalities and its causes within present day borders of Turkey since 1880. We construct indices for value added per capita for agriculture, industry and services as well as GDP per capita for each of the 58 administrative units for about one dozen benchmark years. For the recent period since 1987, we make use of the official series for the same 58 units. We find that the overall trend from the 1910's to the present has been convergence for the country as a whole. We also find an inverse U shaped pattern for the regional disparities in Turkey since 1880. While all other regions began to move towards country averages, the differences between the East and the rest of the country persisted and even increased. Our comparisons also suggest that regional disparities in Turkey have been and are still larger than those in European countries of similar size such as Italy, France and Spain. Problems of endogeneity make it difficult to establish causality at this stage of the research. Nonetheless, we are able to offer an interpretation consistent with our empirical findings. We argue that not a single cause but a combination of causes led by geography, structural change, industrialization and agglomeration economies, and ethnic conflict and demographic movements are behind this pattern for the country as a whole and for the fact that the East has continued to lag behind.