Balkan earned a Ph.D. in economics from the State University of New York at Binghamton and joined the Hamilton faculty in 1987. His current research focuses on the formation of middle classes through education and financial liberalization in developing countries. Balkan has received several awards and grants for his work, including the International Development Research Center Grant in 1996 to study the effects of short term capital flows on the Turkish economy. He teaches economic development, international finance and political economy of the Middle East at Hamilton and has lectured as a visiting professor at Bilkent University in Ankara and Sabanci University in Istanbul, Turkey.
Balkan’s recent book on the formation of the Turkish middle class and education Reproducing Class: Education, Neoliberalism, and the Rise of the New Middle Class in Istanbul was published in January 2009 by Berghahn Books. He is currently working on a manuscript titled The Neoliberal Landscape and the Rise of Islamic Capital.