Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Taskforce Outlines Ways for Turkey to Escape Middle-Income Trap and Reach Economic Goals
Press Release

RELEASE: Taskforce Outlines Ways for Turkey to Escape Middle-Income Trap and Reach Economic Goals

Washington, D.C. — With Turkey’s centennial approaching in 2023, the nation’s leaders have set a goal of becoming the world’s 10th largest economy with a gross domestic product of $2 trillion, $500 billion in exports, and a per capita income of $25,000 per year. Reaching these ambitious targets will require the government to undertake a wide-ranging reform agenda amidst a difficult political and social climate made all the more difficult by recent events.

The Turkey 2023 Trilateral Taskforce—an expert group convened by the Center for American Progress, the Istanbul Policy Center, and the Istituto Affari Internazionali—released a report today that examines Turkey’s 2023 goals, assesses the likelihood of success, and looks at how they might be achieved and what challenges may prevent their realization. The report, “Turkey’s Path to Prosperity in 2023,” is the result of a series of working group meetings of economists and Turkey scholars and is part of a broader trilateral initiative to outline a long-term prosperity vision for Turkey and assess the state of the republic and its institutions 100 years after its foundation.

“Turkey has experienced 15 years of rapid growth after spending most of the last century in economic stagnation,” said Michael Werz, CAP Senior Fellow and one of the leaders of the taskforce. “But that growth, based largely on construction and consumption, has slowed. For Turkey to reach its ambitious goals, grow the overall economy in an inclusive way, and improve living standards for all Turkish citizens, it should return to the more inclusive reform agenda of the early 2000s and resist urges to break from the West.”

The report focuses on Turkey’s ability to escape the “middle-income trap.” As countries pass through different developmental phases, they must adjust their drivers of economic growth. Turkey is currently a middle-income country and, like most, has relied on low-cost labor, construction, and traditional manufacturing to fuel its growth. However, Turkey now risks becoming trapped at the middle-income level if it cannot manage to create a skilled, high-income workforce and embrace higher-tech, value-added exports to provide new sources of growth and income.

The report looks at the economic and political barriers that may prevent Turkey from breaking out of the middle-income trap. Those barriers include low female workforce participation; a low domestic savings rate; overreliance on fossil fuels; weak institutional checks and balances that undermine faith in the rule of law and, thus, the business climate; and deep societal polarization and conflict. The paper also offers recommendations for economic, institutional, and educational reforms that would help Turkey as a nation as well as individual Turkish citizens improve their economy and their standards of living and hopefully avoid remaining in the middle income trap. The Turkey 2023 Trilateral Taskforce has also published a book of essays written by prominent Turkish academics, journalists, and intellectuals examining the big political and foreign policy challenges that may impact Turkey’s ability to meet the 2023 goals.

Click here to read Turkey’s Path to Prosperity in 2023.
Click here for the Voices from Turkey Booklet.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at or 202.481.7141.