More Prone to Marry, Less Egalitarian: Gender Role Attitudes, Employment and Household Labor Among Women with Different Marriage Intensities in Turkey

Ilknur Yuksel Kaptanoglu, Hacettepe University Institute of Population Studies
Ayse Abbasoglu Ozgoren, Hacettepe University Institute of Population Studies
Faruk Keskin, Hacettepe University Institute of Population Studies

This study focuses on propensity to marry among women in Turkey and investigates how this is correlated with gender attitudes and status of women in public and private spheres throughout the marriage. Analyses are carried out in three stages using data collected in the 2013 Turkey Demographic and Health Survey. First, the influential factors in transition of women from single to married life are determined using event history analysis. Second, two groups of women were constructed as women with high and low risks of marriage (women who marry earlier, and women who postpone marriage for ever-married women, respectively) with cluster analysis based on these factors. Finally, characteristics of these two groups were compared in terms of marriage type, participation in the labor force, household division of labor including childcare in the private sphere, and attitudes towards intimate partner violence. In the analyses of employment and domestic labor within the marital life, women were further grouped according to the stages of the family life cycle. The results of this study demonstrate that there is a clear dichotomy among married women in Turkey in terms of gender attitudes, and public and household labor. Factors related to risk of marriage is an important correlative of this differentiation. Higher intensity of marriage, i.e. marrying at a younger age, is associated with women’s lower employment with social coverage, less egalitarian values and more primary responsibility for the household chores within marriage. Co-existence of traditionality and modernity of women is a prevailing fact in Turkey. We humbly explore the implications of this revealed ideational and status-related dichotomy of women in Turkey within the framework of the second demographic transition, mainly focusing on its phenomenon of gender-role transformation.



In Turkey people, especiallywomen, are supposed to get married in a widespread manner. According to the 2013Turkey Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS-2013), 96.9 percent of women aged45-49 are ever-married. Due to universality of marriage in the country, itsintensity differentiates mainly due to timing of marriage among women. Thisstudy is based on this dichotomy of women, reflected in marriage outcomes,specifically the timing of first marriage[1].This paper investigates how differentials in tendency to marry influencewomen’s lives in marital relationship in terms of their labor forceparticipation, household division of labor, and attitudes towards intimatepartner violence.


Marriage has been studied mainlyin relation to fertility and sexuality in the classical demographic transitiontheory (Cherlin,2012). However, within the second demographic transition theory, itsassociations are expanded to cover changes in family structure, differentiationof gender roles and extra-marital fertility (Lesthaeghe, 2010; Lesthaeghe and Surkyn; 2008; Lesthaegheand Surkyn, 1988; Van De Kaa, 1987). In demographic studies onmarriage institution in Turkey, marriage has been analyzed mainly on the basisof age at first marriage and fertility relationship (Kavadarlı, 1982;Ünalan, 1994; Koç and Koç, 1998; Tezcan and Coşkun, 2002 and 2004; Yavuz,2012), and characteristics related to the formation of marriages and their effecton demographic events (Hancıoğlu and Ergöçmen, 1992; Civelek andKoç, 2007; Koç and Eryurt, 2013). The number of marriage-related studiesthat take into account gender issues and the disadvantaged positions of womenin the social structure, on the other hand, has been increasing over the years(Behar, 1995; Yuksel-Kaptanoğlu et al., 2012; Yüksel-Kaptanoğlu andErgöçmen, 2012; Özcebe and Biçer, 2013; Yavuz, 2015).



The data source of this study isthe TDHS-2013, which is the most recent survey among demographic surveys atfive-year intervals since 1968 in Turkey. Histories on fertility, marriage,employment and migration events of all women were collected in TDHS-2013,differently from previous TDHSs.

This study methodologically consistsof three stages (Figure 1). These stages can be summarized as follows:

·      Inthe first stage, factors influencing the transition of all women to marriage since12 years of age were determined using the hazard approach with piece-wiseconstant exponential modelling. Women''s risk of transition to marriage wasanalyzed considering pre-marital characteristics of 9,746 women.

·      Inthe second stage, variables that significantly affected the risk of marriage inthe previous stage were used in clustering analysis to form two groups of womenin their first marriages: (i) with high marriage risk (who marry earlier), and (ii)with low marriage risk (who delay marriage) adding up to 6,629 women.

·      Inthe third stage, these two groups were compared according to their establishmentof marriages, their attitudes towards violence, and considering five stages ofmarriage their status in public and private spheres as employment and householddivision of labor. Marriage stages were used in a manner similar to family lifecycle approach based on the existence of children and the age of the oldestchild.



According to the results of theevent history analysis, the educational level of women, pre-marital employment,total number of siblings, and urban-rural childhood place of residence werefound as the factors determining the timing of marriage. Based on thesefactors, women were grouped into two using cluster analysis.

 In brief, our findings confirm the dichotomy between traditional andmodern life styles of women in Turkey. Women postponing marriage are in amore advantageous position in marriages where there is room for a moreegalitarian relationship in terms of household division of labor, where housework traditionallydefined as women''s work is more done with the spouse, and activities carriedout with children are perceived as a joint activity[2](Table 1).

Women with low marriage intensity seem to have more power in public andprivate spheres with more gender egalitarian norms. Additionally, given theattitudes towards violence in this group, it can be considered that these womenare closer to the ideational change as experienced in European countries, and aremore likely to have similar experiences with women in countries experiencingsecond demographic transition. In Turkey, where the first stage of "gender revolution" has notyet been completed, the fact that women with low risk of marriage have relativelyequal share of household chores with their spouses makes this group worthanalyzing. It is a new field of study to investigate women groups, who may bepioneers and active actors of the second demographic transition, by farthergroupings including never married women. However, more time and efforts areneeded for a widespread change of mind towards gender equality in Turkey.  

[1] Accounts for both occurrenceand timing of marriage analyzed by event history analysis.

[2] Results with respect to marriagestages are not presented here, but are available on request.

Presented in Session 1097: Families and Households