https://www.dailysabah.com/-by Daily Sabah
Still younger than other countries, Turkey faces the hard fact of aging as latest statistics show fertility rates decreased while average household size dropped to around three from four
The latest statistics published by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) on Thursday justify President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s famous advice to newlywed couples: Have at least three children.
Figures regarding family size and birth rate indicate the worrying aging trend of the population, which still boasts a high rank in the list of countries with a young population. The 2021 statistics of TurkStat showed the number of live births in the country was 1.07 million, while the total fertility rate was 1.70 children. Fertility rate refers to the average number of live births that a woman would have in her reproductive life (usually between the ages of 15 and 49). This rate was 2.38 children in 2001. TurkStat says the fertility rate remained below the population’s replacement level of 2.10. Replacement level means the fertility rate to sustain the average size of the population in any given country.
The highest fertility rate was once again in the southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, with 3.81 children. Şanlıurfa, along with other southeastern provinces, usually scores high in this category as home to traditionally large families. Indeed, Şırnak and Mardin, other southeastern provinces, followed it with high fertility rates, at 3.18 and 2.78, respectively.
The lowest fertility rate was in the western province of Kütahya at 1.21 children, ahead of Bartın and Zonguldak in northern Turkey. Still, Kütahya was only slightly behind 1.50 children, the average total fertility rate in European Union member countries in 2020, according to TurkStat. In EU countries, France has the highest fertility rate with 1.83 children, while Turkey ranked third in 2020, the latest year with available statistics.
Another damning figure was in crude birth rate, or the number of live births per every 1,000 people. This figure decreased to 12.8 per 1,000 in 2021, from 20.3 in 2001. Şanlıurfa topped the list of provinces with the highest crude birth rate, while Zonguldak scored the lowest rate.
The highest fertility rate was in the age group between 25 and 29, the statistics showed that the adolescent fertility rate (between the ages of 15 and 19) decreased.
Figures also show a change in the “birth age.” While the mean age of mothers giving birth was around 26 in 2001, it increased to 29 in 2021. Istanbul had the highest mean age, at 28, while Ağrı had the lowest age at around 23.
Only 3.1% of births in 2021 were multiple births, twins, triplets, or more, in other words.
Alarm bells are already ringing for Turkey, which faces the aging phenomenon in population that plagues other countries. In the past five years, the country’s elderly population has increased by 24%, with people aged 65 and above constituting 9.7% of the total population in 2021. Though advances in public health, with reforms in health care services, prolong the average lifetime of the population, it is a concerning situation when coupled with a lower fertility rate.
On family, TurkStat says the average household size decreased to 3.23 people last year, from 4 people in 2008. The southeastern province of Şırnak had the highest average household size with 5.45 people, ahead of Şanlıurfa and Hakkari, while the smallest household size was in the western province of Çanakkale with 2.57 people, ahead of Tunceli and Giresun.
TurkStat figures on families also indicate a rise in the number of one-person households. The rate of people living alone rose to 18.9%, from 13.9% in 2014. Both one-family households and households with extended family, also decreased. The highest proportion of one-person households was in the province of Tunceli, ahead of Gümüşhane and Giresun, while Diyarbakır and Batman in eastern Turkey scored lowest in this category. Single parent households constituted 10.1% of total households in the country in 2021, while women made up the majority of single parents living with at least one child. Bingöl in the east had the highest single-parent rate at 12.5%, along with Adana and Elazığ provinces, while this rate was lowest in Tokat and Ardahan provinces.
As for extended family households, Hakkari scored highest while it was lowest in the central province of Eskişehir.
The statistics also delved into consanguine marriages and indicated that they made up 8.3% of total marriages. The majority were between first cousins, while Mardin in the southeast had the highest number of people married to their relatives, at 20.5%, TurkStat says, ahead of other southeastern provinces Şanlıurfa and Diyarbakır.