Should we stop talking about “youth”?
Youth and young people are becoming a hot topic among development donors and actors. But who exactly do these “labels” apply to, and are they too broad for effective policies? Or do they create too narrow a focus which is blind to larger structural issues? In this blog by IDS, Philip Mader argues that the term “youth” implies a homogeneity which could lead to misinformed policy decisions. Focusing on “youth” rather than the bigger structural or systemic issues which affect everyone – such as climate change, adverse markets or class-based exploitation could exacerbate problems. Mader argues that it would be good if development policymakers and practitioners develop a keener eye for the variegated issues which diverse young people in different countries face. Furthermore, the youth lens on development problems also entails risks, thus good policies will involve not just employing the concept of “youth”, but will also disentangling and problematize it.