Female-headed households in Turkey and socio-demographic and economic characteristics of female household heads.

Original article


Koc I.

Nufusbil Derg. 1997;19:73-99.


PIP: This study examines the welfare of female-headed households in Turkey during 1978-93. Data were obtained from the 1978 Turkish Fertility Survey, the 1987 Household Income and Consumption Expenditures Survey, the 1988 Turkish Population and Health Survey, and the 1993 Turkish Demographic and Health Survey. Duben and Behar (1996) report that female headship was 19.3% in 1885 and 14.7% in 1907 in Istanbul. About 40% of female heads of household were living alone in 1885 and 1907. In 1993, the percentage of female headship was 11.4% in Istanbul, with about 35% living alone. During 1950-93, the proportion of households headed by women increased by about 64%. Female headship peaked at 10.4% in 1978, declined during 1978-88, and increased again by 14% during 1988-93. High female headship during the 1970s may have been due to emigration of male labor, which swelled during the early 1960s and 1970s. A labor agreement with Libya in 1975 diverted migration to North Africa and then to the Middle East. After 1974, migration of Turkish workers was replaced by family reunification. The Turkish labor market changed markedly during 1973-80. Many of the families left behind due to migration joined extended families. During 1978-93, urban households were more likely to be headed by women. Female headship was lowest in the south in 1978 and in the north in 1993. Female household heads were more likely to be disadvantaged in both years. In 1993, over 50% of female household heads and only 11.3% of male household heads had no education. 20% of female household heads and 80% of male household heads were in the labor force in 1978 and 1993. Female household heads in the labor force were less likely to be covered by the social security system. 62% of female household heads and 38% of male household heads are in the low-income group. One in 10 households in Turkey is female-headed, and 1 in 6 low-income household heads is female.

Keywords: female-headed households