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Youth Exclusion in Egypt: In Search of 'Second Chances'

45 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2008  

Ragui Assad

Population Council

Ghada Barsoum

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: September 2007


Egypt is at a stage in its demographic transition with a marked youth bulge, a period in which the proportion of youth in the population increases significantly compared to other age groups. The objective of this paper is to look closely at youth in Egypt with the lens of exclusion as a guiding conceptual framework. The crux of the exclusion framework is that while some experience a successful transition to jobs, financial stability and personal independence with the ability to form families of their own; others experience unemployment; end up with dead-end low-paying jobs, and defer forming families due to the high financial costs of this important life transition in Egypt.

With Egypt's economic revival, which began in 2004, there has been a notable improvement in labor market conditions. However, the youth continue to be a most disadvantaged group in terms of higher rates of unemployment, lower earnings, and limited job security and stability, with the majority of new entrants finding jobs within the informal economy. The youth also experience a virtual devaluation of their education credentials compared to earlier cohort. Work opportunities are inter-related with the other dimensions of youth exclusion that we address in this paper: education and learning; potentials for forming families and channels for exercising citizenship. Exclusion is a cumulative process, with each of these life transitions having an overlapping impact on the others.

This paper shows that youth exclusion is highly gendered. While female school enrollment rates have significantly increased in the past few decades; there remains a significant minority of girls deprived of schooling particularly in rural Upper Egypt. Similarly, while labor market conditions have improved for most groups, recent analysis shows some alarming trends in female employment, with many out-of-school young women aged 15-29 being economically inactive; and with a significant proportion of those who are economically active being unpaid family workers. Young women are also four times as likely to be unemployed as young men.

Keywords: youth exclusion, middle east youth, Egypt, demographic transition, demographics, gender issues, employment

Suggested Citation

Assad, Ragui and Barsoum, Ghada, Youth Exclusion in Egypt: In Search of 'Second Chances' (September 2007). Middle East Youth Initiative Working Paper No. 2. Available at SSRN: or

Ragui Assad (Contact Author)

Population Council ( email )

United States

Ghada Barsoum

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

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