When the Global Downturn hits the Youth Bulge: Challenges and Opportunities for (Female) Youth Employment and Social Advancement

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Developing countries presently experiencing or are shortly expected to see a “youth bulge” (a large number of young people in the national population)—some 71 in total—will face relatively greater employment and human capital investment challenges as a result of the global economic crisis and its medium term ramifications. Additionally, gender inequalities could also be exacerbated by the global crisis, increasing the risks particularly for female youth. To help address these issues and as a contribution to the policy discussions toward a more inclusive social and economic recovery from the crisis, this paper examines the extent to which countries with imminent or anticipated youth bulges, combined with historically persistent gender inequality, are likely to be impacted by the crisis. As a second contribution this paper develops a framework for understanding the risks faced by girls throughout the lifecycle, with an additional focus on intergenerational transmission of poverty. In order to ensure that the global crisis does not lead to permanent harm and that the ensuing recovery is broadly inclusive—notably for girls and women—this paper underscores the need for at least two main sets of policies: a) policies to address the immediate female youth unemployment challenges exacerbated by the crisis; and b) policies to address possible risks throughout a girl’s lifecycle that undermine future employment and social advancement prospects. There is a need for a set of more nuanced policies that target girls and women, and that seek to address their specific risks which broad policy packages (such as macroeconomic stimulus packages that target broad sectors) may not necessarily address, and instead possibly exacerbate.