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Turks Contribute $17B to California PDF Print E-mail
2008-06-15 09:31:58
Işıl Öz-San Diego* -
California resident Dr. Ertan Elmaağaçlı  finished his three and a half year DBA with a paper on “The Turkish Diaspora Who Live in California and Their Contribution to the Economy.” This research aims to present the Californian Turks in a better light as well as reveal their contribution to the local economy. This expansive book of 281 pages is not limited to survey questions and results, but also offers statistical information. We chatted to Dr. Elmaağaçlı about his research…
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Dr. Ertan Elmaagacli.

How many people participated in the survey, and was this number sufficient for you to get the correct information?
A total of 158 participated. The survey contained a large variety of questions that complemented one another. The questions were asked a number of times. You may ask the same question in different ways, subtly enough that the participants cannot tell; we call these ‘control questions’ that enable us to verify the answers. I tried to minimize errors by asking questions in both Turkish and English. I’m grateful to our societies in both North and South California for their assistance. I participated in Turkish forums and tried to reach as many people as possible through a variety of channels.

How many sections are there in the book?
The book comprises three presentations. I tried to define the migrants in California in the first section. Their education levels, their reasons for coming here, why California, when they arrived, how many generations, their sex, whether they work or not, etc. In the second section, we present the Turks’ contribution to the economy of California. The third section comprises a diagram I developed, which outlines the education levels of Turkish migrants in California and I then developed various models based on their skills in adaptation.

Would you please share the results of the information you gathered at the end of the first section?
Turkish migrants came due to the poor economic outlook in the Ottoman Empire between 1880 and 1920. My research revealed that in the 1940s there were very few migrants who came this way. The numbers increase after 1960. The majority of Turks in California chose to come here. Later waves comprised better educated people who opted to come to California. There was a lot of individual migration.

51% of the Turks here came to study, 18% to find work, 14% came due to marriage and 6% because they were curious. 57% came straight to California while 53% first lived elsewhere before finally coming here. 60% have been here fewer than 16 years, yet 81% are already American citizens or hold green cards. While home ownership in California in total is 54%, 60% of the Turks own their homes. 70% faced no major problems. 40% work. 92% hold a university degree, while 66% hold a master’s or other higher degree.

I tried to find the following answers on Turkish migrants in the book: Their ages, when and from where they arrived in the US, their professions, their current employment status, their visa status, how many generations have lived here, and even whether they rent or own their own property, or whether they faced any issues regarding their visas. In addition, you can find which cities Turks live in.

How great a contribution do Turks make to Californian economy, according to your research?
Their total contribution is $17,899,992,142. In other words, some 0.89% of California's economy. Not even one percent, I know, yet this is no mean figure. Had California been a country in its own right, you’d have seen the scale of the amount. I have shown this in the diagram. Turkish migrants’ contribution to Californian economy is significant.

Have Turkish migrants contributed to the Californian economy at the same rate from the beginning?
The first wave of migrants predate the 1980s; the second arrived in the 1980s, the third in the 1990s and the fourth since 2000. The first generation was highly educated and their contribution is some four billion dollars. The second have also adapted well, though their education level is not nearly as high and they have a contribution of 3.1 billion dollars. The largest single group is the third generation, contributing some 6.2 billion. Their education and adaptation levels are high. The fourth and final generation is the highest educated though least well adapted, as they are so new in the States. Their contribution is 4.6 billion dollars. The highest employment levels are found in the first and second, due to experience. On the whole, Turks who live in California are highly educated and do not suffer from adaptation issues.

Are there any other major differences based on the timeline of arrival?
Indeed there are; women have gradually begun to migrate more and more to California. In line with higher education levels, more women appear to have chosen to live in the States than men.

How do Turkish migrants fare in terms of education levels and their adaptation to California?
The “Migrant Adaptation Matrix” indicates that Turkish migrants in California enjoy high levels of education and adapt well. Our migrant population here is determined to own their own businesses, they are well educated and trained. I sincerely believe that this diagram will open the way to further research.

The survey reveals that Turkish migrants here are far from pessimistic. They are convinced they will overcome any obstacles that might face them. Only 20% have given up due to the difficulties they’ve faced. Even the visa issues following the 11th of September have failed to discourage Turks.

In trying to promote the Turkish population with this research, Dr. Elmaağaçlı believes our economic contribution to California has proven itself. “When you consider the fact that we all represent Turkey, it’s important for the Turkish state to recognise this. Ilhan Kaya had conducted similar research on Turkish migrants in New York. My book is the first one since his. This information is relevant to the employers in America; as proven statistically, we have a huge potential,” he says.

His family originally from Kayseri, Dr. Elmaağaçlı was born in 1972 in Siegen, Germany. He went to school there and arrived in the USA in February 2003. Following his Bachelor of Science in Management in 2003, he then undertook an MBA in 2004 and began his Master’s in the same year. He finished his Master’s at the California School of International Management in San Diego.

Stating that he’s already received an offer from an international company, Dr. Elmaağaçlı adds that he will return to Germany: “I will try to promote the information I gathered as much as possible. I want to publish this book in the States, in Turkey, Germany and the UK. This is just a beginning; I sincerely hope that younger generations will refer to my book before they embark upon further research of their own.”

* Published with the consent of Turkish Journal, www.turkishjournal.com
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