This page introduces M. Aykut Attar's works by classifying them into distinct research projects. Please visit the Publications page and its subpages for detailed lists with bibliographical details. The data sets and computer codes are available at GitHub. Please send an e-mail to M. Aykut Attar if you need the full text of a paper. 

Stagnation and Growth in the Long Run
with a focus on British economic history

This research takes Oded Galor seriously! It analyzes the patterns and regularities of (Malthusian) stagnation and modern economic growth in (preindustrial) England using dynamic (general equilibrium) models. The first work I published as a part of this project is my doctoral dissertation itself. I then published a theory paper by building on the model I constructed in the dissertation. The dissertation and the paper were trying to formalize Joel Mokyr's arguments advanced in Gifts of Athena within a two-sector unified growth model. More recently, I wrote a short paper demonstrating that both the Black Death and slow productivity growth are essential in understanding preindustrial prosperity in England. Besides, the paper substantiates the notion that understanding the very long-run growth patterns requires a model that features multiple growth regimes. As a part of this research, I also published a methodological essay that argues the relevance of the second-generation Schumpeterian models for the analysis of the first Industrial Revolution. Most recently, a paper that focuses on the dynamics of the Malthusian regime in England has been accepted by the Journal of Population Economics. I also keep working on a paper that studies some counterfactual experiments in British economic history by using a calibrated unified growth model that explicitly accounts for epidemics.

Growth and Development in Turkey

The main objective of this research is to analyze the dynamics of growth and development in Turkey using micro-founded endogenous technology and endogenous demography models. When I started studying growth and development patterns of the Turkish economy in early 2010s, the existing literature was particularly narrow in these respects. In the first paper of this project, published in METU Studies in Development in 2017, I used a second-generation Schumpeterian model with vertical and horizontal innovation channels and estimated some of its structural parameters using macro-level data. A year later, in a paper published in Boğaziçi Journal, I presented a comparative analysis of South Korea's and Turkey's catching up experiences by extending a simple two-sector model with endogenous absorptive capacity. In the third paper of this research, published as a book chapter in an edited Routledge volume, I constructed an overlapping-generations general equilibrium model of the Turkish economy with endogenous fertility, endogenous R&D, endogenous entrepreneurship, and endogenous human capital accumulation. In a recent paper that presents a critical analysis of the naïve neoclassical theory of capital, I revisited growth, distribution, and dynamic inefficiency patterns of the Turkish economy for the post-1923 era. I also wrote a book chapter (in Turkish) and studied the effectiveness of R&D expenditures in Turkey using a very simple aggregate model. My works on the long-run growth and development patterns of the Turkish economy also include a short article (in Turkish) published as a book chapter, a short review of Şevket Pamuk's Uneven Centuries, published in The Developing Economies, and various Op-Ed articles published in İktisat ve Toplum.

Economic Demography
with a focus on population policy controversies in Turkey

The initial motivation for this research in March 2008 originated from Recep Tayyip Erdogan's pro-natalist views. To study the economic consequences of pro-natalist rhetoric, I first wrote a paper that constructs an endogenous demography model for Turkey. Using a rigorously calibrated version of the model, I investigated the effects of exogenous and counterfactual upward shifts in fertility levels and demonstrated the adverse effects on GDP per capita and welfare in the medium run and in the long run. In 2016, after the announcement of a pro-natalist program in Turkey, I developed a simple continuous-time overlapping-generations model and showed that the baby bonus levels legislated in that program would not have any sizable effect on fertility. More recently, I published a theory paper (in Turkish) that formalizes adverse welfare and growth effects of pro-natalist population policies. I also published a paper that estimates the structural form of a wealth accumulation model in which age is a fundamental determinant of wealth. Currently, I'm working on a paper that studies intergenerational transmission of fertility in the United States. My work on economic demography includes invited Op-Ed articles (in Turkish) published in İktisat ve Toplum and Yurt ve Dünya

The COVID-19 Pandemic
Joint work with Ayça Tekin-Koru

In the first paper of this project published in Economic Systems, we constructed a disease transmission model with an exogenous and unobserved/unobservable social distancing term. The purpose was to filter out latent social distancing using observed epidemiological data. Eventually, we were able to do that for a large number of countries with an algorithm that is robust against epidemiological underestimation. The project website includes data and codes as well as the MIDIS index that we recovered for 120 countries. In the second paper of this project that is currently under review, we develop a numerical algorithm that directly deals with epidemiological underestimation. We again use a disease transmission model and estimate the daily headcount levels of infectious and deceased persons using a minimal set of reliable data moments. Though the algorithm can be applied to any country, we focus our attention on Turkey where the government did not disclose the number of all confirmed COVID-19 cases for several months after the relaxation of mobility restrictions in June 2020. Relative to the official cumulative figures, our benchmark estimates imply 1,127,281 (341%) more cases on November 25th, 2020 and 11,866 (175%) more deaths on December 10th, 2020. Our counterfactual experiments show that social distancing, if practiced well and long enough, is highly effective for the containment of COVID-19.

Policy-Oriented Research

I've been involved in various policy-oriented research projects commissioned by international and Turkish institutions/organizations. In these projects, I've worked as a researcher and/or a team coordinator. In a project directed by Serdar Sayan and commissioned by COMCEC, we've studied agricultural trade policies for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries. In another project, again directed by Serdar Sayan and commissioned by COMCEC, we've analyzed food security governance mechanisms in the OIC countries. More recently, I've been a researcher in a short-term project directed by Türkmen Göksel and funded by İzmir Development Agency (İZKA). That project has determined the priority sectors to be supported to minimize the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the İzmir economy. I've also been a researcher in a project funded by the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI) and undertaken by Hacettepe University Social Policy Center (HÜSPAM). In that project, our team has studied urban poverty in Ankara, by building upon Amartya Sen's capability approach and by using micro-level data. Please visit the Grants page for more info on these commissioned research projects.


In a project funded by Hacettepe University, I explored the determinants of the Distance to Frontier effects for a large number of countries using aggregate productivity data. I also have a work-in-progress on the South Korean miracle where I develop a novel approach to understand the micro-techno-economic foundations of productivity growth. In the most recent work in progress, I revisit the notion of neoclassical (Pigouvian) exploitation of labor with a focus on bargaining. 

I also have a very strong interest in economic methodology and the philosophy of economics. Especially after joining the Turkish Initiative for Economic Thought in 2018, I wrote several non-technical papers (in Turkish) on economic methodology and the philosophy of economics. These papers focus on various issues such as mathematical formalism, the history of growth-development theories, the methodological problems of general equilibrium analysis, and how we should understand the history of general equilibrium economics with an evolutionary epistemology.