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As of mid 2010, approximately 1,001 million people aged 15 to 29 were living in Asia, if one includes China.[3] That is 25,83 percent of the total population in the region. China alone has some 328 million and India has some 313 million young people. This is the largest number of young people ever to transition into adulthood. Youth unemployment is high, with youth accounting for half of the unemployed and being six times more likely to be jobless than older workers. Formal job growth has not kept up with economic growth and there is a mismatch in skills between those demanded by employers and those acquired in school. Literacy rates among young people are low in all countries, except Maldives and Sri Lanka. On average, only 62% of young women can read and write (versus 77% of young men).

South Asia has the largest gender gap in literacy in the world. Student migration is particularly important for Asian youth. East Asia and the Pacific are increasingly receiving international students, but more important, these regions contribute the largest group of students studying abroad (29% of the global total of mobile students worldwide). In absolute terms, China has the largest share of internationally mobile migrants and accounts for 14% of all mobile students.[4] Young people increasingly engage in high-risk behaviors with 40% reporting unprotected sex. It is estimated that 2.2 million young people live with HIV/AIDS in Asia.

Fifty percent of HIV infections are believed to be in the 15 to 24 age group. Early pregnancy and its attendant risks of high maternal and child mortality also remain a problem in the region. Tobacco use is on the increase. Young women face additional problems, with many being malnourished and suffering from anemia. Social pressures continue to force young women into early marriage and childbearing. Girls and young women (especially in rural areas) are especially vulnerable, and are increasingly becoming victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.[5]

More information for this region can be accessed from the World Bank’s World Development Report 2007, “Development and the Next Generation” – regional highlights: http://go.worldbank.org/DE5YGZ1A80.


Footnotes