The Youth Employment Crisis

A Perspective from Mexico
Mar 17, 2017 9:10 AM ET

Young people play a vital role in fostering global economic development. In the face of weak prospects for global economic growth, their involvement in the formal economy becomes increasingly relevant and urgent. In recent years, there has been much talk about the demographic dividend in most emerging economies and less-developed countries, a scenario where a larger proportion of the overall population is of working age. In Mexico, young people between 15 and 29 represent the largest age group. By 2022, the country will have the largest number of youth in its history and its size will shrink in the years that follow, as the country transitions toward an aging population. This demographic phenomenon is observable in the structure of the current population pyramid, which is undergoing a shift to an inverted form.

A large, economically active population offers a unique opportunity to accelerate economic growth, but for countries to capitalize on this circumstance, they must generate sufficient job opportunities for the younger generation and ensure a living wage with appropriate benefits. In countries like Mexico, however, those conditions don’t always exist. Globally, youth face unemployment rates two to three times higher than the rest of the population, depending on the country. The issue becomes more worrisome when considering the preliminary results from last year, when youth unemployment rose for the first time in the last three years. In short, by the end of 2016 there were approximately 71 million young people unemployed globally. In Mexico, youth unemployment varies between 7.5 and 8 percent, double the unemployment rate for the general population of working age.

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