Turkey has been transformed during my lifetime, both in economic terms and in terms of people’s welfare. In 1970, the average birth rate for each woman was 5.5, and the under-five mortality rate was 134 deaths for every 1000 children born. Now the fertility rate is 2.0, and there are 19 deaths per 1000.
The progressive improvements in welfare go a long way towards explaining the popularity of the ruling Justice and Development Party, the AKP. Income per capita has almost trebled during their time in office. However, President Erdogan has been developing his own solution to Turkey’s traditional problem of governance – how to train tortoises. Erdogan has expressed the view that any woman who does not have at least three children is “deficient” and “incomplete”. There have to be more tortoises.