Youth exclusion is a form of social exclusion in which youth are situated at a social disadvantage in joining institutions and organizations in their societies. Youth exclusion is context specific, meaning that, for example, “applying the concept of social exclusion to the Middle Eastern and North African countries calls for analysis of what it means to be Egyptian, Moroccan, Iranian, or Syrian, to be a Muslim, an Arab, and so on”. It is also relational in that social exclusion contains two parties, the excluders and excluded. Pertaining to youth exclusion, the excluders are often older generations who may feel that they risk their position in society by providing greater access of services and institutions to youth. It is also multi-dimensional, including not only poverty but “with other forms of social disadvantage or group memberships that are related to economic outcomes.”
The costs of youth exclusion may be measured in terms of the costs of aggregate components, including factors like youth unemployment and teen pregnancy, or a single aspect, such as youth crime or drug use.
Regional youth exclusion
In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), youth exclusion has several dimensions. As in other regions, youth unemployment is high, with a regional average of 25% unemployment among 15- to 24-year-olds, which reaches as high as 37% in Morocco and up to 73% in Syria. There is also a significant level of labor market segmentation related to economic restructuring and insider-outsider issues;
“Organized insiders with seniority benefit from rents – higher wages, better benefits, and greater tenure – by monopolizing jobs and restricting access to particular sectors. Outsiders, such as youth and new labor market entrants, suffer from longer unemployment durations, skill atrophy, and declining health, as well as the social dimensions of exclusion from work.”
Additionally, youth exclusion is exacerbated by gender, whether due to child-rearing needs and expectations, sex segregation, parental supervision, or other cultural or religious reasons. For example, compared to 63% of economically active 15- to 29-year-old males, only 22% of females from the same age group were economically active in Egypt in 2006.
As a result of youth unemployment, young people have a tendency of extending their education and delaying marriage and family formation. Like Europe, MENA has seen its youth delay leaving the home, getting married, and beginning families.
Consequences of youth exclusion in MENA have included young people entering waithood, a period during which they simply wait for their lives to begin, most notably by queuing for long periods of unemployment during which they live with parents and are financially unable to pursue marriage or home ownership. While delayed marriage is a trend seen in many societies, adaptations vary, such that it is normal in the United States and Europe for young unmarried couples to cohabitate while in MENA, such an arrangement is unacceptable. Instead, an increasing number of youths are engaging in nikah urfi, temporary marriages, which offer little security to the wife and any subsequent offspring. The psychological impact is also considerable, with unemployment leading to depression and social isolation, often with physical manifestations. There is considerable concern in the international community that these isolated youths are marketed to by extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda, who prey upon their sense of social exclusion and hopelessness.
- Silver, Hilary (2007). "Social Exclusion: Comparative Analysis of Europe and Middle East Youth". Middle East Youth Initiative Working Paper No. 1: 5–6. SSRN 1087432.
- Navtej Dhillon & Tarik Yousef, “Inclusion: Meeting the 100 Million Youth Challenge,” Middle East Youth Initiative, 2007
- Ragui Assaad & Ghada Barsoum, “Youth Exclusion in Egypt: In Search of Second Chances,” Middle East Youth Initiative Working Paper (September 2007)
- Diane Singerman, “The Economic Imperative of Marriage: Emerging Practices and Identities among Youth in the Middle East,” Middle East Youth Initiative Working Paper (September 2007)