March 24th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Media ensure a comfy rise for Bill Shorten

CANBERRA OBSERVED Can Liberals' broad church survive schism?

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Middle-East time bomb: youth unemployment

ENVIRONMENT Europe's freeze further proof of global warming!

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cashless debit card records positive results

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Liberals' Tasmanian victory: the implications

OPINION The height of absurdity: education as business

ECONOMICS AND CHINA Eyes averted from the dragon in the marketplace

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM The state attacking the Church: lessons from history

FAMILY POLITICS A Trojan horse for monitoring children

NORTH AMERICA The cultural and political mosaic that is Canada

CINEMA Mary Magdalene on film: a new interpretation

MUSIC Audio-visual: or, how to watch your music

CINEMA The Adventures of Tintin: A light amid the bleakness

BOOK REVIEW Taking arms against the gender fluid fad

BOOK REVIEW Narrative history from a great writer



INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Sexual exploitation at Oxfam symptom of culture of death

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Middle-East time bomb: youth unemployment

by NW Contributor

News Weekly, March 24, 2018

With 30 per cent of their populations under the age of 30 and 5 million young people with high literacy rates entering their labour markets annually, the biggest problem facing North-African and Middle-Eastern nations is youth unemployment.


From Iran to Morocco, leaders of all religious sects and political systems are struggling to find solutions to the region’s unemployed youth.

Rapid population growth followed major investments in health care, reducing the infant mortality rates in countries where large families have been the norm. Egypt’s population doubled in the past 30 years to 95 million.

Following major investment in education since the 1970s, there is a sharp contrast in the literacy rates of the younger and older generations, as the first two maps show. They also mark new cultural divides between new and old world outlooks.

However, bloated public sectors, weak private sectors, mismatches between skills and jobs and geopolitical issues unique to each country have colluded to make the region’s youth unemployment rates among the highest in the world. Wars in several countries have compounded the problems.

Even counties of the Gulf Cooperation Council that are rich in hydrocarbons are facing high youth unemployment rates.

Officially, unemployment among 15–24 year-olds is around 30 per cent, twice the global average. In reality, it is much higher because the youth workforce participation rate is much lower than in other nations and official statistics poorly measure unemployment outside the large urban areas of many Middle-Eastern and North-African countries.

Many countries are struggling to make their education systems provide the skills to match the world’s rapidly evolving technologies.

They want to expand their private-sector economies. Some are relying on new technologies, while others are turning to the International Monetary Fund for new directions.

But building the private sector also brings risks. Private sectors are prone to business cycle booms and busts. Recessions bring unemployment and risk of people sliding into poverty. Welfare and stimulus packages are slow to work, risking unrest as seen in austerity-hit nations like Greece.

Unemployment issues sparked the Arab Spring. Today, there is little desire for another Arab Spring. But if youth unemployment is not solved, then demands for political change will grow among younger generations as they lose faith in their governments that have year after year promised solutions but have failed to provide jobs that allow a decent standard of living.

Widespread discontent would provide a breeding ground for more regional militants. The ranks of the unemployed have always provided fodder for radical ideologies.

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