Youth and jobs in rural Africa: Beyond stylized facts

The share of working-age young people in Africa south of the Sahara has risen due to past declines in mortality coupled with high fertility. This “youth bulge” has created a sense of urgency among national governments and the international development community as the prospect of widespread youth unemployment in Africa, and the social instability and political unrest it could bring, looms closer. As a result, African governments are under pressure to create more and better jobs for the region’s young and rapidly growing population.

Although the scale of policy reforms and actions needed to address Africa’s youth bulge is daunting, there is an increasing alignment of interests and incentives: African governments have made youth employment a policy priority, and African youth are demanding policies that improve their job prospects. This creates promising opportunities to enact policies that effectively address rural youth employment—policies that are grounded in local evidence rather than stylized facts.