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Congrès Marx International V - Section Économie – Paris-Sorbonne et Nanterre – 3/6 octobre 2007
Who Pays for Crises of Capitalism?:
A Class-Based Income Distribution Analysis in Turkey
Ahmet Haşim Köse - Serdal Bahçe
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ahmet Haşim Köse
Ankara University,
Faculty of Political Sciences
Department of Economics
Dr. Serdal Bahçe
Ankara University
Faculty of Political Sciences
Department of Public Finance
The Turkish Economy had experienced two severe financial crises (in 1994 and 2000) during 1990’s. Certainly, these crises
had significant repercussions upon the income distribution of the society. Up to date, these repercussions have been generally
analyzed in a standard neoclassical framework that utilizes traditional tools such as income brackets, Gini coefficients or
Lorentz Curve. These traditional tools consider the individuals or socially indefinite income groups as the basic analytical
units. In essence, these crises have far-reaching effects upon the society, which could not be evaluated by such an analytical
framework. As a general rule for a capitalist society the effects of crises upon the different social classes has not been equal.
In the context of the Turkish financial crises, this study aims to analyse the redistributive effects of the crises upon the different
social classes of the society. Although the bourgeoisie precursors argued that the cost of the crises that Turkey experienced in
the last decade was almost equally distributed among the individuals of the society, the evidence drawn form the class-based
income distribution analysis of the consequences of the crises have falsified this argument. A brief overview of the empirical
evidence suggests that the financial crises have significantly changed the income and wealth distribution between the social
classes such as workers, petty bourgeois and capitalists. In this context, the basic question which we aim to answer is “Who did
pay for the crises?”.
Undoubtedly, in an empirical analysis of social classes, the main problem is the transition from a theoretical conceptualisation
to a concrete definition of social classes. In order to cope with this problem, we will follow a methodology that theoretically
stems from a synthesis of Marxian writings and especially from G. Carchedi and E. O. Wright. However, apart from being
theoretical constructs, social classes are also historical forms, which have been outcome of historical development of national
capitalisms. This unavoidable fact has directed us to extend our research beyond the limits put by a pure theoretical class
analysis and into a concrete analysis of historical determination of class positions in the capitalist social formation of Turkey.
This extension necessitates a well-structured empirical analysis which will complement theoretical interrogation.
For our empirical analysis, we use “Household Budget Survey” data sets, which have been irregularly conducted by the
Turkish Statistical Institute since 1987. This survey gives information about consumption patterns, net disposable income and
wealth positions of the households in Turkey. Moreover, it also covers a range of questions from which we can derive the class
status of the households. We use 1994 and 2003 surveys within a comparative perspective as a representative of last two
financial crises. In particular, we try to answer the following questions: (i) what are the basic characteristics of the household
class structure in Turkey? (ii) On what grounds did the financial crises affect this structure? (iii) What were the magnitudes of
redistribution effects of financial crises among the different social class? By answering these questions, we aim to interpret the
meaning of our main question for different social classes in a capitalist society: is it really possible to share the effects of
crises? If not, “who pays for crises of capitalism?”