Unlevel Playing Field: Socioeconomic Determinants of Early Childhood Development in Turkiye

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Karaoğlan D., Dayıoğlu Tayfur M., SARAÇOĞLU D. Ş., Sağir S.

Child Indicators Research, 2024 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s12187-024-10139-0
  • Journal Name: Child Indicators Research
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, ASSIA, CAB Abstracts
  • Keywords: C5, Early Childhood Development, I00, Maternal education, O15, Socioeconomic status, Türkiye
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


We investigate the socioeconomic determinants of early childhood development (ECD) in Türkiye, focusing on maternal education and household wealth, using representative microdata from the 2018 Türkiye Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS), which collected data on the developmental status of young children aged 36–59 months for the first time. Using this data, we construct an ECD index based on four developmental domains (i.e., literacy-numeracy, physical development, learning readiness and socio-emotional). Our results suggest that 74 percent of children (70.3 percent of boys and 78 percent of girls) are developmentally on track. We find that while over 96 percent of children are developmentally on track in physical and learning readiness domains, only 14.5 percent and 73.6 percent are in the literacy-numeracy and socio-emotional development domains, respectively. The multivariate regression results suggest both maternal education and household wealth improve children’s ECD outcomes but the latter has a stronger effect. In fact, we find that mother’s schooling is only positively and statistically associated with ECD once mothers have at least a high school education. Kindergarten attendance, which stands at a meagre 11.3 percent, is only likely for children from well-to-do and educated households. As a result, we find large gaps in ECD and its components between children with low and high socioeconomic backgrounds. We conclude that leveling the playing field is only possible via a nationwide multisectoral initiative that can support and educate caregivers and children simultaneously.