Combating Youth Unemployment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)

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Many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) face today high rates of youth unemployment. The latest uprising in the Arab world, in countries as such Egypt, Libya, or Tunisia, has many reasons. One reason is that the demography shows a strong increase of young cohorts streaming onto the labor markets of most MENA countries (Stampini/Verdier-Couchane 2011). This so-called demographic “youth bulge” puts the labor markets in MENA countries heavily under pressure. As a consequence, many MENA governments had to provide plenty of jobs for those with intermediate or higher education in the public sector, in order to avoid unrest among the urban youth. This, in turn led to large public sectors in many MENA countries. However, since the mid-1980s jobs in the public sector became less available. At the same time, the private sector has been unable to absorb those huge numbers of educated young adults resulting in high unemployment rates or employment in the informal sector (Binzel 2011).


Michael J. Kendzia

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