Joblessness plagues better educated youth in Latin America – UN report

11 December 2009

Even though young people aged 15 to 29 in the so-called Mercosur countries of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay are better educated than ever before they are more likely to be unemployed, while a Latin American youth is 30 times more likely to be murdered than one in Europe, according to a United Nations report released today.

“The threat of exclusion, which is nearly implicit in the transition process to the labour market, has been expressed by the young generation as the most unbearable, especially when contrasted with the greater expectations of social mobility generated by inclusive education,” UN Development Programme (UNDP) Assistant Administrator Rebeca Grynspan said at the report’s launch in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The gap between expectations spurred by access to education and vulnerable job placement is the core source of malaise for the age group, with those under 30 representing almost 60 per cent of the total unemployed in Brazil and Uruguay, and 70 per cent in Paraguay. In addition, today the younger generation feels more insecure due to the increased exposure to violence as exemplified by the murder rate comparison with Europe.

The 2009-2010 Mercosur Human Development Report – Innovating for Inclusion: Youth and Human Development – published by UNDP, views strengthening young people’s capacity to act within and transform the region as a critical element in human development, and pushes for public policies that favour this type of participation.

It was prepared with the support of the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation in Development (Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo, AECID), and is one of a series on Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The challenges facing the youth in terms of human development are not mere obstacles to their own development,” UNDP Resident Representative in Uruguay Pablo Mandeville said. “They are real knots in the overall development path of the societies concerned.”

Women in Mercosur (southern market) countries must also be among the leading agents of action and change in the region. “Young women have shown a greater ability of social involvement: on average, seven out of 10 women have participated in at least one political or social action,” report director Fernando Calderon said.

“The effects of motherhood on performance on the job market for young people should be neutralized with social protection policies. It is also crucial that such policies address the high vulnerability of single-parent households, especially those headed by women.”

Among reasons why youth are becoming strategic agents of human development within Mercosur, the report cites their social heterogeneity and cultural diversity, leading them to increasingly play a leading role in innovation in the world of technology and communication.

Moreover, they are “native-born citizens” of the techno-social environment of the new digital world and tend to focus on specific local actions geared toward concrete results.


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