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Out-of-School and Out-of-Work Youth in Latin America: A Persistent Problem in a Decade of Prosperity


  • Mauricio Cardenas
  • Rafael De Hoyos
  • Miguel Szekely


This paper explores the persistent shares of youth that are out of school and out of work in Latin America, with special attention to those in the fifteen-to-eighteen age range. Accord- ing to our calculations, 18.5 percent of Latin American youth in this age group (9.4 million indi- viduals) are currently neither in school nor working. We present the patterns of the evolution of this group in eighteen countries across the region, identifying the set of microeconomic and aggregate variables that are correlated with their dynamics. We explore the relationship with the household’s socioeconomic characteristics and with the structure and evolution of labor markets. We identify the links with the schooling system and school dropout patterns; and we verify whether the group responds to changes in the environment, including overall GDP growth, or to economic shocks. We also explore the possibility that they are simply a transient demographic phenomenon.

Suggested Citation

  • Mauricio Cardenas & Rafael De Hoyos & Miguel Szekely, 2015. "Out-of-School and Out-of-Work Youth in Latin America: A Persistent Problem in a Decade of Prosperity," Economía Journal, The Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association - LACEA, vol. 0(Fall 2015), pages 1-40, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000425:014005

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    Cited by:

    1. Luis René Cáceres, 2021. "Youth Unemployment and Underdevelopment in Honduras," International Journal of Economics and Finance, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 13(2), pages 1-61, February.
    2. Ali Fakih & Nathir Haimoun & Mohamad Kassem, 2020. "Youth Unemployment, Gender and Institutions During Transition: Evidence from the Arab Spring," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 150(1), pages 311-336, July.
    3. Francisco Haimovich & Emmanuel Vazquez & Melissa Adelman, 2021. "Scalable Early Warning Systems for School Dropout prevention: Evidence from a 4.000-School Randomized Controlled Trial," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0285, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    4. Luis Rene Caceres, 2021. "Nafta and Mexico’s Economic Growth from a Gender Perspective," International Journal of Economics and Finance, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 13(12), pages 1-90, December.
    5. Melissa Adelman & Francisco Haimovich & Andres Ham & Emmanuel Vazquez, 2018. "Predicting school dropout with administrative data: new evidence from Guatemala and Honduras," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(4), pages 356-372, July.
    6. De Hoyos Navarro,Rafael E. & Popova,Anna & Rogers,F. Halsey, 2016. "Out of school and out of work: a diagnostic of ninis in Latin America," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7548, The World Bank.
    7. Peña, Werner, 2020. "Population Aging and Public Finances: Evidence from El Salvador," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 17(C).
    8. Adelman,Melissa Ann & Szekely,Miguel, 2016. "School dropout in Central America : an overview of trends, causes, consequences, and promising interventions," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7561, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    Education; employment; youth;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J10 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - General
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality


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