August 2018

IZA DP No. 11733: Education and Labor Market Consequences of Student Protests in Late 1970s and the Subsequent Military Coup in Turkey

Ahmet Ozturk, Semih Tumen

revised version published in: IZA Journal of Labor Economics, 2023, 12:04

1970s witnessed violent, widespread, and highly-politicized student protests in Turkey. Small protests turned into bloody street clashes, the death toll exceeded 5,000, and a military coup came in - which resulted in mass arrests. Universities were at the center of the conflict and violence. We present a comprehensive empirical analysis of the education and labor market consequences of this political turmoil on cohorts directly exposed to educational disruptions. First, we document that the number of new admissions and graduates in post-secondary education declined significantly due to the turmoil. We report the decline in post-secondary graduation ratio to be around 6.6-7 percentage points for the exposed individuals. Second, we estimate a counterfactual wage distribution for the exposed cohorts using semi-parametric methods and check whether the turmoil affected the wage and occupation distributions. We find that the decline in educational attainment due to the turmoil pushed the exposed population toward medium- and low-income occupations, and compressed their wages toward the minimum wage. Finally, we use the unexpected decline in educational attainment as an IV to estimate returns to schooling. Our IV estimates suggest that the returns to an additional year of schooling range between 11.6-14 percent for men. In a heterogeneous-outcome framework, these IV estimates can be interpreted as the average causal effect of an additional year of schooling in post-secondary education.