The revolution is dead, long live the demolition: Education and labor market consequences of student riots

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Ozturk A., Tümen S.

IZA Journal of Labor Economics, vol.12, no.1, 2023 (Scopus) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.2478/izajole-2023-0004
  • Journal Name: IZA Journal of Labor Economics
  • Journal Indexes: Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, ABI/INFORM, EconLit, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Keywords: political conflict, returns to college, Student protests, tertiary education disruptions
  • TED University Affiliated: Yes


The 1970s witnessed violent, widespread, and highly-politicized student protests in Turkey. Small protests turned into bloody street clashes, the death toll exceeded 5,000, and a military coup came in—which resulted in mass arrests. The universities were at the center of violent conflict. We study the education and labor market consequences of this political turmoil on the cohorts exposed to educational disruptions. First, we document that the number of new admissions and graduates in post-secondary education declined significantly due to the turmoil. The decline in post-secondary graduation ratio is 6.6 percentage points for the exposed individuals. Second, we estimate a counterfactual wage distribution for the exposed cohorts and check whether the turmoil affected their wage and occupation distributions. We show that the decline in educational attainment pushed the exposed population toward medium- and low-income occupations, and compressed their wages toward the minimum wage. Finally, we use the unexpected decline in post-secondary education as an instrument to estimate returns to college. We find that the college-premium is around 15 percent per year for men.