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Youth Exclusion in Syria: Social Economic, and Institutional Dimensions

Published on: November 2007​
Genre: Economics/Finance​ Category: Research Report/ Research Paper/ White Paper​

A combination of factors contributes to actual or potential economic exclusion of young people in Syria. This paper focuses on three of them: economic, social, and institutional. Instead of drawing attention to the multidimensionality of youth economic exclusion, our paper highlights the interaction among the contributing factors. We suggest that multiple risk factors associated with youth economic exclusion add to one another so that they have a stronger cumulative effect than they would individually.

Young people in Syria are six times more likely than adults to be unemployed. -- the highest in the region outside of the Gulf cooperation Council (GCC). In 2001, the Syrian government began initiating a series of reforms to help move the country away from a public sector-led development model towards a social market economy. The reforms presented a dramatic shift from earlier policies which resulted in labor supply pressures due to an over-promotion of public sector employment. While the demand for public-sector employees remained fairly stable, the number of young people competing for those same jobs increased.

The current unemployment is further exasperated by rooted social and institutional structures. Many young people still rely heavily on family connections to find work, and those without them suffer a particular disadvantage when it comes to finding a high quality job. Youth in search of employment in the private sector face rigid labor regulations that make private businesses reluctant to hire them. Those they do make it through work long hours for a very low minimum wage. In addition, young women in Syria are less than half as likely to participate in the labor force compared to young men (30 compared to 67 percent) and nearly twice as likely to be unemployed (39 compared to 21 percent), further stressing the importance of focusing on gender in our analysis.

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