Africa’s got work to do: A diagnostic of youth employment challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa
This article in the Journal of African Economies provides a macroeconomics analysis of the youth employment problem in the low and lower middle income countries of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). While concerns about youth employment are often voiced, the discussions tends to lack context due to the absence of labor market data and analysis. This article tries to reduce this gap through analyzing macroeconomic changes and indicators in SSA. It concludes that youth unemployment is just a subset of the overall employment challenges in SSA. This stems, according to the authors, from the slow pace of the demographic transition combined with slow development of a modern, export-oriented enterprise sector. This leaves the majority of youth entering the labor market no employment options, except for household farms or firms. Since in these segments, earnings and productivity are usually low, it has resulted in a large gap between the aspirations of youth and the economic opportunities available. More recognition of these realities in the labor market and of the limited prospects for major change, could bring better focus to current youth employment strategies and guide the directions for public and private interventions. The authors argue that strategies should focus on productivity and earnings in the sectors where most of the labor force works, instead of just concentrating on the urban wage employment sector.