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Global & Regional Assessments

In many countries, youth experience persistently high unemployment rates relative to adults. Labor market assessments examine what factors can explain high youth unemployment, as well as connections with poverty and schooling. However, these assessments require appropriate labor market diagnostics, which are also relevant to low income countries and take into account that many youth work in the informal economy (see "Assessing Labor Markets & Education-Labor Market Linkages in Low and Middle-income Countries"). An accurate labor market diagnosis can help policy makers better understand youth unemployment and craft effective solutions.

Regional Youth Employment Rates Chart


Is the Window of Opportunity Closing for Brazilian Youth? Labor Market Trends and Business Cycle Effects (1.2mb pdf)
Social Protection Discussion Paper No. 0806
Michael Justesen
April 2006

Brazilian youth today face enormous difficulties in penetrating the labor market, a situation much different from the one 25 years ago. While females have entered the labor market and increased their employment rate many are unemployed. Youth unemployment reached 19.1 percent in 2002; up from 4.5 percent in 1978. This paper analyzes long-run trends, as well as the impact of business cycles, on Brazilian youth in the labor market. To do this, the paper uses Brazilian household data (PNAD) spanning 1978−2002 and covering 290,000−530,000 individuals per year. Two main findings are presented: First, the labor market situation for youth has deteriorated and did especially so in the 1990s. In particular, labor force participation and employment have been decreasing relatively more for youth than for adults, but also wages decreased and unemployment increased for youth. Second, Brazilian youth were adversely impacted by business cycle fluctuations. During recessions youth lost ground compared to adults in the labor market in terms of labor force participation, employment, and to some extent unemployment. During expansions youth did not catch up on adults; in fact, the gap continued to widen.

Assessing Labor Markets & Education-Labor Market Linkages in Low- and Middle-income Countries (83kb pdf)
World Bank HNDSP & HDNED Teams

This concept note describes the first phase of a multi-year project funded by the BNPP Trust Fund to further our understanding of labor market functioning in developing countries and to assess the role of alternative forms of education in shaping labor market outcomes.

How are Youth Faring in the Labor Market? Evidence from Around the World (399kb pdf)
World Bank Policy Research Paper No. 4071
Jean Fares, Claudio E. Montenegro and Peter F. Orazem
November 2006

This paper uses a new standardized micro database for a large set of developing countries to (1) describe the patterns of labor market outcomes for youth, and (2) explain the contributions of supply and demand factors to youth outcomes. The paper shows that youth face various difficulties in transitioning to work. This is reflected in their relatively higher unemployment rate, higher incidence of low paying or unpaid work, and a large share of youth who are neither working nor in school. This is especially true for young girls who are found outside the labor market, some engaged in home production. Finally, the paper also finds that cross-country estimates show that changes in the youth relative cohort size is unlikely to have a large effect on how youth are faring in the labor market.

Youth Labor Market in Burkina Faso: Recent Trends (380KB PDF)
Social Protection Discussion Paper No. 0607
Daniel Parent
July 2006

As is the case in many developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, a very large fraction of young individuals stop going to school very early in life and transition into the labor force. In fact, according to the 2003 Survey of Household Living Conditions (SHLS), around 20% of young Burkinabes aged 6–11 are reported to be illiterate and over 60% of those aged 10–11 report having no schooling at all. Obvious concerns then are to assess how those young people perform in the labor force, to study how their fortunes evolve through time, and to compare their labor market outcomes to those of more educated individuals. At the same time, it would be useful to assess how the households in which those young individuals live fare generally in terms of relative poverty or in terms of changing economic circumstances so as to be able to identify potential causal mechanisms linking household characteristics and youth outcomes.

Youth Employment in the MENA Region: A Situational Assessment (400kb pdf)
Social Protection Discussion Paper No. 0534
Nader Kabbani and Ekta Kothari
September 2006

This paper investigates the youth labor market in the MENA region in order to identify factors contributing to the persistently high rates of unemployment and joblessness among MENA youth. The paper undertakes three parallel lines of inquiry. First, the authors review characteristics and trends related to the youth labor market. Second, they review findings from the research literature in order to identify determinates of labor market outcomes for youth. Third, they use survey data from Egypt and Morocco to address additional questions about the youth employment situation. While the authors do not test for causality empirically in this paper, our analysis suggests several regional factors that may be contributing to the high rates of unemployment and joblessness among MENA youth: strong labor supply pressures, rising female labor force participation rates, and labor market rigidities that may be interacting with these two factors. Public sector wage premiums and bureaucratic obstacles to the development of private sector enterprises may be especially important contributing factors. Despite many common regional trends, MENA countries also face unique circumstances suggesting unique policy prescriptions. This is especially true in comparing GCC and non-GCC countries.

Towards a Better Understanding of the Nature, Causes and Consequences of Youth Labor Market Disadvantage: Evidence for South-East Europe (615kb pdf)
Social Protection Discussion Paper No. 0502
Alexandre Kolev and Catherine Saget
March 2005

The aim of this paper is to contribute to our better understanding of youth labor market disadvantage in the region. A particular attention is paid on measuring the multiple aspects of youth labor market disadvantage, and attempts are made to identify some of its causes and consequences. The paper further provides a summary of relevant studies that have looked at the impact of selected Government policies on youth labor market outcomes.

Trends in the Youth Labour Market in Developing and Transition Countries (223kb pdf)
Social Protection Discussion Paper No. 0321
Niall O'Higgins
October 2003

This paper looks at youth labor market trends concentrating on developing and transition countries. Questions relating to the integration of young people into decent work have in recent times once again begun to occupy a central position in Government Policy issues.  Recently co-ordinated efforts also at the international level have begun to make themselves felt.  This paper aims to provide a contribution to debate on the issues by giving an overview of trends in the youth labor market, principally in Transition and developing countries.

Youth Employment Policy in Developing and Transition Countries: Prevention as well as Cure (237kb pdf)
Social Protection Discussion Paper No. 0320
Martin Godfrey
October 2003

There are two kinds of policy intervention – preventative and curative. A preventative intervention tries to counteract the processes that generate a problem; a curative intervention tries to deal with their consequences. In the case of poverty, for instance, a curative intervention will find out where the poor are and try to alleviate their situation; a preventative intervention will analyze the causes of poverty and devise strategies to prevent it. In the case of youth employment policy, there is a similar distinction: this paper tries to shift the emphasis from curative towards preventative interventions – from treating the symptoms to dealing with the underlying causes.


Youth in Africa's Labor Market Workshop, Feb. 7, 2006
In the context of Economic and Sector Work (ESW) on youth in the labor market in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Social Protection Sector in the Africa Region and the Human Development Network hosted a workshop to present the recent findings based on six country studies and an Africa regional overview.


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