Despite robust economic growth, youth unemployment rates in the Middle East are high, ranging from 20 to 30 percent in most countries in the region but exceeding 45 percent in some countries (e.g. Algeria and Iraq). Young people with secondary and post-secondary education face severe difficulties in securing employment mainly due to skills mismatches and long queuing for public sector jobs. In fact, the average duration of unemployment spells for youth with university or vocational education can still be measured in years.
The Middle East experienced high economic growth, with real GDP per capita increasing by about 4.0 percent per year from 2004 to 2006. This figure is up from 2.6 percent during the first four years of the decade and from 1.7 percent during the 1990s. In 2010, GDP growth in the region is expected to be 4.4 percent, as the global economy bounces back from the 2008-2009 economic crisis. Further, private sector development, fueled by foreign and domestic investments, is becoming a major engine of job growth. Spreading the benefits of such growth will mean ensuring job creation rates accelerate to meet the demands of young workers. Moreover, the quality of these jobs is crucial if young people are to fulfill their potential and life goals.
Experts from the Middle East Youth Initiative are producing ongoing analysis of political and economic developments and the youth populations in these countries. Articles published in internationally recognized media and featuring analysis from Middle East Youth Initiative experts are posted in the "Latest News" section.
Following Hosni Mubarak's much-anticipated speech on Thursday, 10 February 2011--in which he reaffirmed his determination to remain in office until September, despite popular expectations that he would resign--Edward Sayre talks about the demands of Egyptian youth for economic opportunity and social inclusion. This audio discussion originally aired on The Takeaway and is reposted here. The views expressed in this piece are those of the published author.
Tarik Yousef discusses the disconnect between Egyptian youth and the ruling elites, highlighting the very real possibility that Egyptian civil society will 'thrive' in a future, democratic state. This article was originally published by The Takeaway and is reposted here. The views expressed in this article are those of the published author.
Paul Dyer considers the need for innovative, creative reforms to harness the economic potential and entrepreneurial creativity of Middle Eastern youth. This article was originally published by Knowledge@Wharton and is reposted here. The views expressed in this article are those of the published author.
Tarik Yousef discusses the impact of rising food prices and economic challenges on youth frustrations in the Middle East, and the potential for these issues to fuel further protests throughout the region. This audio show originally aired on The Takeaway and is reposted here. The views expressed in this piece are those of the published author.
Tarik Yousef discusses how Egypt and other Arab states' preoccupation with security issues over the last decade drove the debate about economics and politics 'out of the halls of government and into the streets.' This story originally aired on NPR's All Things Considered and is reposted here. The views expressed in this story are those of the published author.
Djavad Salehi-Isfahani, MEYI nonresident senior fellow, has authored a new paper entitled “Iranian Youth in Times of Economic Crisis” (2010) as part of the Dubai Initiative Working Paper Series. Using survey data for 2007 and 2008, Salehi-Isfahani reviews the evidence on youth transitions in Iran to show how the recent economic crisis has affected youth transitions to employment and to marriage. He also shows how transitions differ by family background and by region of residence – rural and urban.
The 2010 Egypt Human Development Report (EHDR) has been released and focuses specifically on the importance of youth in Egypt's economic, social and political development. The report, "Youth in Egypt: Building our Future", features a chapter by MEYI nonresident senior fellow Ragui Assaad on human development and labor markets, which investigates transitions into employment for Egyptian youth as well as the skills gap between education and employment and the occupational outlook facing young people today.
Presidential Summit Wrap-Up: Middle East Youth Initiative Research Featured at Summit and Brookings Launch Event
Ragui Assaad, Christine Binzel and May Gadallah share new findings on the transition to first jobs, job mobility, and the timing of marriage among young men in Egypt.
Youth Transitions to Employment and Marriage in Iran: Evidence from the School to Work Transition Survey
Ehaab Abdou, Amina Fahmy, Diana Greenwald and Jane Nelson propose recommendations to facilitate the development of institutional alliances that need to take place in order to capitalize on social entrepreneurship, boost economic opportunities for young people in the Middle East, and prepare the region become more fully integrated into a rapidly changing global economy.
Youth Exclusion in the West Bank and Gaza Strip: The Impact of Social, Economic and Political Forces
Edward Sayre and Samia Al-Botmeh examine three dimensions of the transition to adulthood by Palestinian youth: acquiring skills through schooling and training, finding employment, and forming a family.
Generation in Waiting: The Unfulfilled Promise of Young People in the Middle East (Brookings Press, 2009), edited by Navtej Dhillon and Tarik Yousef, represents three years of research on youth exclusion in the Middle East.
Djavad Salehi-Isfahani and Navtej Dhillon present a framework for policymakers to improve youth outcomes by addressing institutional distortions across sectors: from the education system to the employment, housing, and credit markets.