Turkey's massive remigration: 210 thousand people emigrated from Istanbul in 2018

Istanbul is listed as the top city having the largest emigrant population in 2018, according to the statistics given by the Turkish Statistical Institute
Thursday, 14 March 2019 13:42

210 thousand people in emigrated from Turkey’s most populated city of Istanbul within the last year, making the city to be listed as having the largest emigrant population compared to other Turkish cities.

The movements of migration in Turkey have reversed after the recent developments, according to the statistics of the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat). Istanbul has placed on the top among the Turkish cities where most people left in 2018. 

TurkStat statistics show that the interest rate hikes triggered by currency shock, inflation, and negative knock-on effects in growth rates and unemployment also pushed Turkey into a migration shock. In Turkey, internal emigration traditionally spreads from the eastern regions to the western provinces. People migrate from small provinces to major cities, or from underdeveloped regions to developed areas mainly concentrated in the west of the country.

However, statistics published by TurkStat indicate that this traditional movement of migration in Turkey has now reversed. Migration is flowing from big cities to small provinces. According to TurkStat’s address-based demographic data, Turkey is witnessing such a massive re-migration from the west to the east for the first time.

While the number of immigrants in Istanbul remained close to the previous years, the number of people who emigrated from Istanbul increased to 595 thousand 803. Based on this figure, more than half a million people left Istanbul for the first time.  

Apart from its net emigration with 210 thousand 321 people in 2018, the net emigration in Istanbul was 50 thousand 543 in 2015, 71 thousand 307 in 2016, 5 thousand 912 in 2017. Istanbul has become a net emigrant metropolitan city with a record number of emigrants leaving the province for the last three years.

Yet, the population of Istanbul continues to increase despite the net emigration rates, because the fertility rate of people living in Istanbul is considerably high. The population of Istanbul, which was 15 million 29 thousand at the end of 2017, rose to 15 million 68 thousand with an increase of 38 thousand 493 in 2018.


The main factor that started the net emigration from Istanbul in 2016 was the fact that terrorist incidents broke out, and tourism was affected by terrorism. Due to these terrorist incidents, some foreigners also left Istanbul. These factors first hit the real estate market. As a result, the real estate prices in Istanbul have started to decline since the middle of 2015.

The decrease in construction works in Istanbul with the declining prices of real estate market reduced employment and accelerated the internal emigration from the city.

According to TurkStat statistics, people leaving Istanbul and other big cities immigrate to the southern province of Antalya, the northwestern province of Balıkesir, and the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. As the usual immigrant-receiving provinces, the southern province of Muğla, Antalya, and the western province of Izmir maintain their features in this field.


In addition, TurkStat’s report indicates that a new flow of migration started towards the eastern regions and smaller provinces of the country. Within this context, there is a remigration to the regions where it came from. For this reason, the first three provinces that receive emigration are central Anatolian provinces of Çankırı and Sivas and the northern province of Ordu.

The most important reasons behind this remigration flow are the stagnation in tourism and construction sectors, increasing unemployment, the cost of living, and especially mark-ups in food prices.