Youth and Jobs in Rural Africa: Beyond Stylized Facts

ISBN : 9780198848059

Valerie Mueller; James Thurlow
336 Pages
153 x 153 mm
Pub date
Nov 2019
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Sub-Saharan Africa's rural population is growing rapidly, and more young people are entering the labour market every year. This raises serious policy questions. Can rural economies absorb enough job seekers? Could better-educated youth transform Africa's rural economies by adopting new technologies and starting businesses? Are policymakers responding to the youth employment challenge? Or will there be widespread unemployment, social instability, and an exodus to cities and abroad? Youth and Jobs in Rural Africa: Beyond Stylized Facts uses survey data to build a nuanced understanding of the constraints and opportunities facing rural youth in Africa. Addressing the questions of Africa's rural youth is currently hampered by major gaps in our knowledge and stylized facts from cross-country trends or studies that do not focus on the core issues. Youth and Jobs in Rural Africa takes a different approach, drawing on household and firm surveys from selected African countries with an explicit focus on rural youth. It argues that a balance between alarm and optimism is warranted, and that Africa's "youth bulge" is not an unprecedented challenge. Jobs in rural areas are limited, but agriculture is transforming and youth are participating, adopting new technologies and running businesses. Governments have adopted youth employment as a priority, but policies often do not address the specific needs of rural populations. Youth and Jobs in Rural Africa emphasizes that by going beyond stylized facts and drawing on more granular analysis, we can design effective policies to turn Africa's youth problem into an opportunity for rural transformation.


1 Valerie Mueller, James Thurlow, Gracie Rosenbach, and Ian Masias: Africa's Rural Youth in the Global Context
Part I: Thematic Trends on Youth Employment
2 Valerie Mueller and Hak Lim Lee: Can Migration be a Conduit for Transformative Youth Employment?
3 David Schwebel, Elisenda Estruch, Peter Wobst, and Ileana Grandelis: Policies for Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa
4 Danielle Resnick: Troublemakers, Bystanders, and Pathbreakers: The Political Participation of African Youth
Part II: Case Studies on the Role of Youth Employment in Structural Transformation
5 Emily Schmidt and Firew Bekele Woldeyes: Rural Youth and Employment in Ethiopia
6 Todd Benson, Alvina Erman, and Bob Baulch: Change and Rigidity in Youth Employment Patterns in Malawi
7 Xinshen Diao, Peixun Fang, Eduardo Magalhaes, Stefan Pahl, and Jed Silver: Cities and Rural Transformation: A Spatial Analysis of Rural Youth Livelihoods in Ghana
8 Xinshen Diao, Eduardo Magalhaes, and Margaret McMillan: Rural Nonfarm Enterprises in Tanzania's Economic Transformation: The Role of the Youth
9 Elisenda Estruch, Lisa Van Dijck, David Schwebel, and Josee Randriamamonjy: Youth Mobility and its Role in Structural Transformation in Senegal
10 Valerie Mueller, Gracie Rosenbach, and James Thurlow: Conclusion

About the author: 

Dr. Valerie Mueller is an Assistant Professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University. She was previously a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, DC, where she maintains an affiliation. Valerie is an agricultural economist and is widely published in leading academic journals. Her research focuses on the drivers and consequences of internal migration in developing countries, paying special attention to the role of climate change, and on using field experiments to identify mechanisms to improve rural service delivery in Africa.; Dr. James Thurlow is a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, DC. Prior to this, he was a Research Fellow at the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research in Helsinki, Finland. James is an applied development economist whose research focuses on the interactions between policies, growth, employment and poverty. James has published widely in areas related to international development, but with a major focus on the factors affecting rural development in Africa and Asia. He has worked throughout these two regions, often advising governments on the design of national policies and development strategies.

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