Demographic integration through intermarriage of Turks and Kurds in Turkey

Ismet Koc, Hacettepe University
Mehmet Ali Eryurt, Hacettepe University

Due to deep-rooted historical and political reasons, ethnicity in Turkey has largely remained a sensitive subject since the 1960s, not discussed until recently even in academic circles. The last time that national data on ethnicity was collected and published was in 1965, in the Population Census, which included questions on mother tongue. Recent years have witnessed a growing interest in ethnicity studies, in a more relaxed and less censored atmosphere. However, most studies have been speculative and politically driven in nature, especially in terms of quantifying the sizes of ethnic groups and assessing their demographic behaviour patterns. Recognising the potential explanatory power of data on ethnicity on demographic processes, a number of questions on mother tongue and spoken languages were included in the individual questionnaires of the nationwide Turkey Demographic and Health Surveys (TDHSs) conducted in 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008. Data from these four surveys is employed for this study in order to test whether the commonly held belief that Turks and Kurds are like a “hand in glove” is true. In order to realize this test, we examine whether a process of demographic integration of Turks and Kurds is under way in Turkey through inter-marriage. Preliminary results indicate that not only these two groups are different in many respects, but also tend not to converge through inter-marriage. Both groups prefer endogamy to a large extent.

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Presented in Session 24: Social and ethnic intermarriage