Incentivizing Military Service

I asked my Turkish teaching assistant, a first-year Ph.D. student, what he’s doing about compulsory military service. To simplify, he is only liable for six months of service as a university graduate, instead of the usual one year; and if he stays here for three years or more, he can further delay service. When he, or anyone else who lived abroad for three years or more, returns to Turkey, he only has to serve one month as long as he pays the government $7000! Even ignoring the possible disutility of serving the five extra months, all he needs to do is earn $1400/month when he returns to make paying this indemnity worthwhile.

Is this system equitable? Probably not. Does it give the right incentives-steer people into the best uses of their time? Probably. It also avoids discouraging Turks from returning home. But it does create some strange incentives; the lower requirement for university grads has created a tremendous demand for online university degrees. The Turkish equivalents of the University of Phoenix are thriving!

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  1. Marion says:

    Interesting subject. Please note, that at least in the olden days, the young Turkish guys who live outside Turkey, were just snatched up by the military when they went back on holidays. Being enrolled in education seems to prevent that, still Turkey is known in Germany for super strict military service.

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  2. Aline says:

    The sevrice here in turkey is 6 months for those who are graduated and 15 months (not one year) for those who doesn’t have any degree 5 I can talk about it…my fiance is serving right now and was sent to Afghanistan….).
    His family tried the other way by making him study abroad…to have 3 years residency out of Turkey, but, only residency is not enought, it should be a working permit + residency…so after 5 years in China with student visa, we understood that he can’t just pay 5000 $ to make 3 weeks…so we came back to Turkey…and he was enrolled for 15 months.

    Since there was a referendum here; for changing the constitution and the army power, the service is going to be 12 months for everybody…degree or not, starting in October..unfortunatly, they won’t bring my fiance back from Afghanistan, because he started the service before that new regulation….

    That’s life…
    I still think that military service is a good thing for young men…it helps them to learn what the words responability, duty…etc mean.

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