Employment for youth - a growing challenge for the global economy

Ragui Assaad and Deborah Levison


Social and economic challenges facing young people today must be understood in terms of the complex interaction between unique demographic trends and specific economic contexts. There has been an unprecedented growth in the number of young people in the Global South in the past two decades, and these youth face situations where the forces of economic globalization interact with historically determined national and regional economic structures and policies.

This research paper focuses on youth employment in Asia, Africa and Latin America, where youth employment challenges are most likely to be associated with the demographic challenges posed by growing youth populations in recent decades. 

The authors argue in this paper that employment inadequacy among youth is a much broader phenomenon than youth unemployment as conventionally defined. Remaining out of work to actively search for employment is often either fruitless and/or unaffordable or many youths in developing countries if there are few wage and salary jobs to be had. Youth in these situations are forced to engage in any sort of livelihood activity they can muster, even if extremely marginal; or, if they can rely on their families for support, they may remain inactive after completing their schooling.

Broader measures of employment inadequacy are needed to capture these two situations, but most of these measures will require new data collection practices.

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Ragui Assaad and Deborah Levison
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