Country Ranking: 35



Turkish author Orhan Pamuk has said: “Turkey will continue to take Europe as a model; it will continue to pursue its search for democracy.” He expresses an optimism that his country will evolve into a society that reflects the democratic and liberal ideals of other European states. Whether that optimism is warranted, the Wake Up 2050 Index highlights the centrality of reform of its political institutions and protection of civil liberties if it is to achieve its economic potential. Turkey is the lowest ranked country on the Wake Up 2050 Index out of the thirty-five analysed. It does not score highly on any of the five metrics except demography, and has multiple weaknesses in many areas, the most serious being in knowledge and resilience.


In contrast to much of Europe, Turkey has a young and growing population. It has one of the highest fertility rates of the countries in our study – only Israel and Mexico have higher rates. This will help ensure that Turkey’s workforce will continue to expand, preventing its dependency ratio from rising significantly and enabling it to raise living standards for its citizens.

The other main area of economic strength is its financial situation. Levels of government debt are low: in relation to GDP they are a third the level in the USA. Turkish households have also been prudent: debt levels in relation to disposable income are a fraction of those in most other states. While this may partly reflect relatively under-developed financial institutions, it should enable Turkey to respond appropriately to future economic shocks.


However, its economic potential is severely undermined by serious weaknesses in knowledge and resilience. Press freedom is more limited in Turkey than in any other country in our study. The government has seized control of some media companies while journalists are routinely intimidated or jailed for criticizing the government. Gender inequality is second only to Mexico: women’s role in the economy and politics remains very limited compared with other OECD countries. Together this means that Turkey is not making the best use of its citizens’ talents and is limiting the flow of knowledge. This will act as a brake on its economic development.

The other main problem is Turkey’s political system. It is ranked the least democratic nation of the thirty-five studied: alongside restrictions on press freedom, recent reforms have also undermined the independence of the judiciary. It is the second most corrupt country in our study; a third of people have reported paying bribes and enforcement of anti-corruption laws are minimal. Such a political environment undermines business confidence and suffocates innovation. It makes it more difficult for Turkey to respond to future economic challenges.

Fact File

Population: 76.9 million (OECD, 2014)

GDP: $ 1,580 billion (OECD, 2015)

GDP per capita: $20,396 (OECD, 2015)