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Worldwide statistics of 15-24 year old NEETs (2020 data)
Worldwide statistics of 15-24 year old female NEETs (2020 data)
Worldwide statistics of 15-24 year old male NEETs (2020 data)

NEET is an acronym that stands for "Not in Education, Employment, or Training". It refers to a person who is unemployed, not receiving an education or in vocational training. The classification of a person as NEET originated in the United Kingdom, but its use has spread, to varying degrees, to other countries and regions, including Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Canada and the United States. The NEET category includes the unemployed (individuals without a job and seeking one), as well as individuals outside the labour force (without a job and not seeking one).

In the United Kingdom, the classification comprises people aged between 16 and 24 (some 16 and 17 year-olds are still of compulsory school age); the subgroup of NEETs aged 16–18 is frequently of particular focus. In Japan, the classification comprises people aged between 15 and 34 who are not employed, not engaged in housework, not enrolled in school or work-related training, and not seeking work.

A 2008 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said the unemployment and NEET rates for people aged 16–24 in the majority of OECD countries fell in the past decade, attributed to increased participation in education.[1]

NEET is to be distinguished from the newly coined NLFET rate used in the 2013 report on Global Employment Trends for Youth by the International Labour Organization. NLFET stands for "neither in the labour force nor in education or training". It is similar to NEET but it excludes the unemployed youth (who are part of the labour force).

United Kingdom[edit]

Knowledge of the word spread after it was used in a 1999 report by the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU).[2] Before this, the phrase "status zero", which had a similar meaning, was used. Andy Furlong writes that the use of the term NEET became popular partly because of the negative connotations of having "no status".[3] The classification is specifically redefined in other local government papers, such as "respondents who were out of work or looking for a job, looking after children or family members, on unpaid holiday or traveling, sick or disabled, doing voluntary work or engaged in another unspecified activity"; the acronym, however, has no agreed definition with respect to measurement, particularly in relation to defining economic inactivity. Karen Robson writes that the classification has "virtually usurped discussions of "youth unemployment" in the UK literature".[4] Scott Yates and Malcolm Payne say that initially there was a "holistic focus" on the NEET group by policy-makers which looked at the problems young people went through, but this changed as the NEET status became framed in negative terms—"as reflective of a raft of risks, problems and negative orientations on the part of young people".[5] NEET figures for England are published by the Department for Education (DfE).[6] The methodology used in calculating the number of NEETs aged 16–18 is different from that used for those aged 16–24. The first relies on a range of sources, the second on the Labour Force Survey.[7]

A 2007 report commissioned by the Prince's Trust said almost a fifth of people aged 16–24 in England, Scotland, and Wales were NEETs; the proportion was lowest in Northern Ireland (13.8 percent).[8] The second-quarter figures for 2011 showed that 979,000 people in England between 16 and 24 were NEETs, accounting for 16.2 percent in that age group.[9] Between 1995 and 2008, the proportion of NEETs aged 16–18 in England remained fairly stable at around 8–11 percent.[10] The Guardian reported in 2011 that, since 2003, there has been a 15.6 percent decrease in people aged 16–18 in employment, but a 6.8 percent increase in those in education and training.[11] NEET figures tend to peak in the third quarter, when school and university courses are ending.[12]

There is some stigma attached to the term NEET.[13] Simon Cox of BBC News said the word is "the latest buzzword for teenage drop-outs".[14] He says "Neets are 20 times more likely to commit a crime and 22 times more likely to be a teenage mum", and that Barking and Dagenham has been called the country's "Neet capital".[15] David Smith of The Times calls them "the yobs hanging around off-licences late into the night".[16] According to Colin Webster, NEETs commit disproportionately large amounts of crime. Children with high levels of truancy and exclusions at school are likely to become NEETs.[17]

Several schemes and ideas have been developed to reduce the number of NEETs. One of the main goals of the Connexions service, first piloted in 2001, is to reduce the number of NEETs.[5] Most local authorities have made a local area agreement to this end.[18] As part of the 2004 Spending Review, the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) had a public service agreement to reduce the proportion of NEETs from 9.6 percent in 2004 to 7.6 percent in 2010.[19] Introduced in 2004–2005 the UK-wide Education Maintenance Allowance offers a means-tested weekly payment of up to £30 to young people continuing education past secondary school.[20] In 2007 the government implemented a "September guarantee" that guaranteed all 16-year-old school leavers a suitable learning place in September, extended to 17-year-olds the following year.[21] The "Young Person's Guarantee" was announced in the 2009 budget, offering a guaranteed job, training, or work experience to 18- to 24-year-olds who have been on Jobseeker's Allowance for six months; it went live on 25 January 2010. It was announced in the 2010 budget that the scheme would end in March 2012, an extension of one year.[22] The Education and Skills Act 2008, which was granted royal assent in 2008, will increase the school leaving age in England to 17 in 2013, and to 18 in 2015; the Act gives the National Assembly for Wales the option to raise the leaving age in that country.[23] A number of further education colleges seek to enrol NEETs. For example, it was reported in 2005 that a course for NEETs at Bournemouth and Poole College had offered various sign-on incentives, and completion bonuses of a free iPod and £100 in cash.[15]

The Scottish Government limits the NEET classification to those aged 16–19.[24]


NEET is a distinct social policy category from that of freeter, the classification for those working low-wage part-time jobs, although in practice thousands of young people move between these categories (i.e., from the status of non-employed young person to that of a part-time worker and back) each year.

The demographic prevalence of NEETs has been indicated in employment statistics. Japanese politicians expressed concern about the impact on the economy of the growth in the NEET population. The estimated size rose from 480,000 in September 2002 to 520,000 in September 2003, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Other surveys by the Japanese government in 2002 presented a much larger figure of 850,000 people who can be classified as NEET, of which 60% were people aged 25 to 34.[25] It is therefore clear that the number of NEETs produced by statistics depends greatly on the specific definition adopted; hence all figures should be treated with caution.

When the NEET issue erupted in the Japanese media in 2004 and 2005, non-employed young people falling into this category were framed as lazy, work-shy and voluntarily out of employment. This media portrayal was effective in arousing the concern of Japan's (conservative) middle aged population, but it led only to moderate support for new youth policies. Indeed, as argued by Toivonen in an empirical monograph that juxtaposes media and policy discourses with youth support practices, the most promising solutions to the NEET conundrum have been created by social entrepreneurs such as Kudo Kei and Iwamoto Mami rather than by MHLW policy-makers or even scholars.[26]

Unlike most Western European countries, Japan's unemployment benefit terminates automatically after three to six months and there is a limited range of support for those with special needs. Many NEETs in Japan are thus inevitably supported by their parents or relatives, though some find their way to Youth Support Stations and other services designed and/or enacted by social enterprises, including many NPOs.

Some believe that Japanese NEETs include many who have rejected the accepted social model of adulthood. They are said to not actively seek full-time employment after graduation, or further training to obtain marketable job skills through the governmental Hello Work schemes. This is often portrayed as a reaction against the traditional career path of the salaryman. Some experts attribute this to the extended economic stagnation during the 1990s, which led to high unemployment among young people (2.13 million by some estimates). Many freeters, who were nominally employed, became NEETs. However, these portrayals are based more on biased media reporting and prejudice than the careful empirical study of life-histories, support practices or wider social conditions.[citation needed]

It is accurate to say that the system of lifetime employment has partly—but not entirely—disintegrated in the face of economic pressures from globalization. The availability of lifelong employment in a single company has become untenable for a growing share of both corporations and individuals, with those relegated to Japan's peripheral labour force missing out on the traditional benefits associated with lifetime employment.

Professor Michiko Miyamoto describes the situation as a "breakdown of the social framework forged in an industrial society, by which young people become adults."[citation needed]


A report by the OECD revealed that 580,000 young Australians fall under the classification. The report also revealed that the number of NEETs has soared by 10,000 since the Global Financial Crisis and now account for one in eight Australians between the ages of 15 and 29.[27]


Statistics Canada carried out the first comprehensive study into the state of NEETs in Canada in 2012. It was revealed that around 13% of Canadians between the ages of 15 and 29 fell into the category. Despite the percentage being the second lowest in the G7 nations the total number of young Canadians that were classified as NEETs currently stands at 904,000.

The study also revealed that out of the total 904,000 NEETs around 513,000 were not looking actively for jobs. The study also suggested that long-term unemployment was not necessarily due to wider disenchantment with the labour market but rather arose out of varying factors. The study also revealed that 82% of the young people not in the labour force actually want to be placed in long-term employment. The study classified the Canadian NEET population not to be "in a high risk, negative state".[28]


In 2013, a study from the Institut de la Statistique du Québec (ISQ) also revealed that 200,000 young men and women were neither in employment, education or training in the province of Quebec. The NEET rate in the province (13.5%) is similar to the Canadian rate (13.2%). The report also stated that the decrease of the NEET rate observed since 1976 was due a highest participation of women in education and employment. International comparisons were made using OECD data from 2010 and showed that the province had a lower NEET rate than the OECD average, United States, France, UK. It also showed that the NEET rate was much lower in other countries such as Germany and Norway.[29][30]

Iberia and Latin America[edit]

In Spain, Mexico, Argentina,[31] Chile and Uruguay, the term "ni-ni" ("neither-nor") has become a popular equivalent of NEET. The term means 'ni estudia, ni trabaja' ("neither studies, nor works"). In Portuguese there is the equivalent term "nem-nem".

The term has become a controversial topic in Mexico, where the government feels that people who might be considered NEET are more likely to choose to join the organizations involved in drug trafficking in order to sustain their economical and personal needs, than they are to get a job or study. Some states and organizations in Mexico are creating work programs and scholarships to keep the NEET population away from drug cartels.[citation needed]

In Latin American and the Caribbean, the Word Bank estimates one in five people ages 15–24 are ninis, 20 million in total, an increase of 2 million since 1992. The 2016 study notes that two thirds of nini are women, mostly due to early marriage, teen pregnancy, or both. It is noted that male ninis increased by 46% since 1992; males account for the entire increase of ninis in the region. Male ninis usually dropped-out of school to work low-paying jobs, who during economic instability lost their jobs with little chance of returning to school.[32]

In Mexico, ninis statistically account for at least a quarter of increased homicides in high-crime areas during 2007-2012, but in lower-crime areas there was no association between ninis and crime. The World Bank noted that at as of 2010, in Latin America and the Caribbean the number of ninis is somewhat lower than the global average though much higher than in higher-income nations. Globally, of the 260 million ninis counted in 2010 by the World Bank, the Middle East, North African and South Asian regions had the highest shares.[33]

United States[edit]

Given the lasting harm caused by the Great Recession, publications such as Time have published articles discussing the number of Americans that have qualified as NEETs, with approximately 15% of Americans under the age of 25 qualifying as such during the first quarter of 2011. Journalist Peter Gumbel wrote in late 2012 that NEETs are "especially prevalent in the U.S." and constitute a "marginalized group of young people" given U.S. state and local government difficulties in maintaining social services.[34]

South Korea[edit]

The situation of Korean NEET is a little different from that of other countries. In countries like Mexico, Turkey and Spain, a large portion of NEETs are the people who do not even complete a high school education. In this situation, it is natural to seek a solution from education.[clarification needed]

On the other hand, in South Korea, the level of college entrance rate is highest in the OECD. Already, many young people have completed higher education, including colleges and universities.[35][clarification needed]

NEET rates by country (World Bank)[edit]

Share of youth not in education, employment or training, total (% of youth population)[36]
Country/territory NEET rate (%) Year of data
 Trinidad and Tobago 52.05 2013
 Zimbabwe 48.47 2014
 Kiribati 46.89 2015
 Yemen 44.768 2014
 Zambia 43.528 2017
 Tajikistan 42.2 2009
 Laos 42.075 2017
 Afghanistan 42.007 2017
 Iraq 40.645 2012
 Mauritania 39.493 2012
 Samoa 37.932 2017
 Armenia 36.586 2017
 Nauru 36.404 2013
 Senegal 36.239 2015
 Botswana 35.465 2009
 eSwatini 35.462 2016
 Guyana 35.199 2017
 Cote d'Ivoire 34.827 2017
 Iran 34.35 2010
 Gambia 33.996 2012
 Uganda 33.47 2017
 West Bank and Gaza 33.449 2018
 Malawi 32.9 2017
 Sudan 32.81 2011
 Albania 32.8 2015
   Nepal 32.098 2017
 Namibia 31.761 2018
 South Africa 31.563 2018
 Pakistan 30.958 2018
 Rwanda 30.622 2018
 Ghana 30.46 2017
 India 30.415 2018
 Cabo Verde 30.25 2018
 Kosovo 30.11 2018
 Tuvalu 28.963 2016
 Moldova 27.83 2015
 Papua New Guinea 27.684 2010
 Comoros 27.584 2014
 Bangladesh 27.386 2017
 Belize 27.34 2017
 Guatemala 27.263 2017
 El Salvador 27.149 2018
 Sri Lanka 27.09 2016
 Egypt 26.875 2017
 Georgia 26.851 2018
 Mali 26.72 2018
 Honduras 26.681 2018
 Congo 26.459 2005
 Vanuatu 26.33 2009
 Tunisia 25.217 2010
 Niger 25.199 2014
 Turkey 24.41 2018
 Dominican Republic 24.336 2017
 Brazil 24.149 2018
 North Macedonia 24.14 2018
 Micronesia 23.69 2014
 Maldives 23.492 2016
 Colombia 22.594 2018
 Indonesia 21.708 2018
 Nigeria 21.36 2016
 Democratic Republic of the Congo 21.36 2012
 Lebanon 21.3 2007
 Bosnia and Herzegovina 21.171 2019
 Timor-Leste 20.951 2016
 Algeria 20.95 2017
 Kyrgyzstan 20.53 2018
 Mauritius 20.461 2018
 Fiji 20.086 2016
 Brunei 19.966 2017
 Philippines 19.89 2018
 Venezuela 19.635 2012
 Italy 19.19 2018
 Argentina 19.023 2018
 Costa Rica 19.02 2018
 Mongolia 18.884 2018
 Mexico 18.428 2018
 Haiti 18.19 2012
 Paraguay 18.061 2017
 Uruguay 17.954 2018
 Peru 17.677 2017
 Ecuador 17.67 2018
 Benin 17.234 2011
 Cameroon 17.015 2014
 Serbia 16.979 2018
 Aruba 16.56 2010
 Ukraine 16.47 2017
 Panama 16.381 2018
 Montenegro 16.2 2018
 Saudi Arabia 16.1 2015
 Chile 15.856 2018
 Bulgaria 15.04 2018
 Tanzania 14.932 2014
 Thailand 14.782 2018
 Israel 14.67 2018
 Romania 14.52 2018
 Greece 14.09 2018
 Kenya 13.731 2016
 United States 13.653 2018
 Myanmar 13.601 2018
 Croatia 13.57 2018
 Cyprus 13.21 2018
 Liberia 13.153 2016
 Palau 12.923 2014
 Canada 12.837 2018
 Malaysia 12.47 2018
 Spain 12.44 2018
 Russia 12.41 2016
 Belarus 12.08 2009
 New Zealand 11.92 2018
 New Caledonia 11.84 2014
 Bolivia 11.635 2017
 United Arab Emirates 11.308 2017
 France 11.07 2018
 Hungary 10.73 2018
 Ethiopia 10.481 2013
 United Kingdom 10.45 2018
 Slovak Republic 10.19 2018
 Sierra Leone 10.09 2014
 Ireland 10.07 2018
 Togo 9.851 2015
 Estonia 9.85 2018
 Kazakhstan 9.491 2016
 Belgium 9.15 2018
 Australia 8.94 2017
 Poland 8.66 2018
 Finland 8.52 2018
 Portugal 8.37 2018
 Vietnam 8.305 2018
 Lithuania 8.04 2018
 Latvia 7.84 2018
 Malta 7.28 2018
 Austria 6.83 2018
 Denmark 6.83 2018
 Bermuda 6.79 2010
 Madagascar 6.784 2015
 Slovenia 6.62 2018
 Guinea 6.203 2002
 Burundi 6.19 2017
 Sweden 6.13 2018
 Hong Kong 6.1 2016
  Switzerland 6.04 2018
 Germany 5.9 2018
 Czech Republic 5.63 2018
 Luxembourg 5.28 2018
 Curacao 5.06 2018
 Macau 4.96 2016
 Iceland 4.87 2018
 Norway 4.85 2018
 Netherlands 4.18 2018
 Singapore 4.14 2018
 Japan 2.94 2018
 Angola 2.56 2014
 Solomon Islands 2.26 2013
 Qatar 2.25 2017
 Nicaragua 1.419 2014
 Cambodia 0.063 2014

See also[edit]


  1. ^ OECD Employment Outlook 2008. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2008. p. 27.
  2. ^ Robson, Karen. "The Afterlife of NEETs" Archived 2017-03-30 at the Wayback Machine. pp. 181–. In: Attewell, Paul; Newman, Katherine S. (eds) (2010). Growing Gaps: Educational Inequality Around the World. Oxford University Press.
    • Kraus, Katrin (2008). Work, Education and Employability. Peter Lang. p. 188.
    • For the report, see "Bridging the gap: New opportunities for 16-18 year olds not in education, employment or training" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 August 2011. (2.53 MB). Social Exclusion Unit. July 1999. Accessed 25 August 2011. 25 August 2011.
  3. ^ Furlong, Andy. "Not a very NEET solution representing problematic labour market transitions among early school-leavers" (subscription required). Work, Employment & Society 20 (3): 553–569. September 2006.
  4. ^ Robson, pp. 181– Archived 2017-03-30 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b Yates, Scott; Payne, Malcolm. "Not so NEET? A Critique of the Use of ‘NEET’ in Setting Targets for Interventions with Young People" (subscription required). Journal of Youth Studies 9 (3): 329–344. July 2006.
  6. ^ "16- to 18-year-olds not in education, employment or training (NEET)". Department for Education. 12 July 2011. Accessed 24 August 2011. Archived 24 August 2011.
  7. ^ "Neet Statistics – Quarter Brief: August 2011" (PDF). Archived from the original on 25 August 2011.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) (202 KB). Department for Education. 24 August 2011. Accessed 24 August 2011. 25 August 2011. See webpage Archived 2011-08-24 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ "The Cost of Exclusion: Counting the cost of youth disadvantage in the UK" (PDF). Archived from the original on 24 August 2011.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) (1.57 MB). The Prince’s Trust. April 2007. p. 13. Accessed 24 August 2011. 24 August 2011.
  9. ^ Cook, Chris. "‘Neets’ account for 16% of young". Financial Times. 24 August 2011. Accessed 24 August 2011. Archived 24 August 2011.
  10. ^ "Young people not in education, employment or training (Vol 1)", p. 6.
  11. ^ Shepherd, Jessica. "Record number of young people not in education, work or training" Archived 2016-09-27 at the Wayback Machine. The Guardian. 24 February 2011. Accessed 24 August 2011.
  12. ^ "'Neet' youths figure at second-quarter high" Archived 2011-08-24 at the Wayback Machine. BBC News. 24 August 2011. Accessed 24 August 2011.
  13. ^ "Young people not in education, employment or training (Vol 1)", pp. 8–9.
  14. ^ Cox, Simon. "A 'Neet' solution" Archived 2006-03-16 at the Wayback Machine. BBC News. Accessed 24 August 2011.
  15. ^ a b Cox, Simon. "A 'Neet' solution" Archived 2006-03-16 at the Wayback Machine. BBC News. Accessed 24 August 2011.
  16. ^ Smith, David. "Nobody Neets this lazy lot any more". The Times. 7 January 2007. Accessed 25 August 2011. Archived 24 August 2011.
  17. ^ Webster, Colin (2007). Understanding Race and Crime. Open University Press. pp. 123–124.
  18. ^ "Rise of the NEETs". Local Government Improvement and Development. October 2009. Accessed 25 August 2011. Archived 25 August 2011.
  19. ^ "Young people not in education, employment or training (Vol 1)", pp. 6–7.
  20. ^ Dawson, Catherine (2010). Learn While You Earn. Kogan Page Publishers. Chapters 12–15.
  21. ^ Lupton, Ruth; Heath, Natalie; Salter, Emma. "Education: New Labour's top priority". In: Hills, John; Sefton, Tom; Stewart, Kitty. (eds) (2009). Towards a More Equal Society?: Poverty, Inequality and Policy Since 1997. The Policy Press. p. 82.
    • For the definition of "suitable", see: "Young people not in education, employment or training (Vol 1)", p. 10.
  22. ^ Goujard, Antoine; Petrongolo, Barbara; Van Reenen, John. "The Labour Market For Young People". p. 47. In: Gregg, Paul; Wadsworth, Jonathan. (eds) (2011). The Labour Market in Winter: The State of Working Britain. Oxford University Press.
  23. ^ "School leaving age plans unveiled" Archived 2007-11-08 at the Wayback Machine. BBC News. 6 November 2007. Accessed 25 August 2011.
  24. ^ "Literature Review of the NEET Group", p. 1.
  25. ^ Brinton, Mary (2011). Lost in Transition : Youth, Work, and Instability in Postindustrial Japan. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
  26. ^ Toivonen, Tuukka (2013). Japan's Emerging Youth Policy: Getting Young Adults Back to Work Archived 2013-12-27 at the Wayback Machine. London, Routledge.
  27. ^ Investing in Youth: Australia. Investing in Youth. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. 2016. doi:10.1787/9789264257498-en. ISBN 9789264257481.
  28. ^ "For almost a million young people: No job, no school". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  29. ^ "200 000 jeunes Québécois ni en emploi ni en formation -Martine Letarte". Blogues de La Presse. Archived from the original on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  30. ^ Qubec, Institut de la Statistique du. "Flash-info – Travail et rémunération". Archived from the original on 2012-10-26. Retrieved 2013-03-08.
  31. ^ "Los "Nini": jóvenes que ni estudian ni trabajan". 11 May 2010. Archived from the original on 13 January 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  32. ^ <a href="">De Archived 2018-11-12 at the Wayback Machine Hoyos, Rafael, Anna Popova, and Halsey Rogers. Out of school and out of work: a diagnostic of ninis in Latin America. The World Bank, 2016.</a>
  33. ^ Ibid.
  34. ^ "Youth Unemployment an Even Bigger Problem in U.S. than in Europe —". Archived from the original on 10 January 2016. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  35. ^ Nahm Jae wook; Han Ki myung; Kim Young min (March 2018). "A Study on Labor Market Precariousness of the Working High School Graduate Youths". Korean Journal of Social Welfare Studies. 49 (1): 221–262. doi:10.16999/kasws.2018.49.1.221. ISSN 1598-3854.
  36. ^ "Share of youth not in education, employment or training, total (% of youth population) | Data". Retrieved 2020-03-19.


Further reading[edit]


External links[edit]

  • The dictionary definition of NEET at Wiktionary