chapter  1
12 Pages

Introduction and summary


This book presents a collection of papers that together show the true extent and complex nature of joblessness among the youth in Sub-Saharan Africa. It also offers a set of evidence-based policy choices that could be expected to contribute to solving the problem in the short-and long-run. The book is composed of full reviews of the macroeconomic and microeconomic literature, and case studies of four major countries in Sub-Saharan Africa (Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa). The reviews provide a theoretical underpinning and broader perspectives drawn from recent and ongoing research projects, while the country studies offer much deeper understanding of the situation on the ground and country-specific solutions. Throughout the reviews and the country studies, this book argues that the

standard International Labour Organization (ILO) definition of unemployment is too narrow to portray correctly the employment situations in Sub-Saharan Africa. The book presents several broader measures of unemployment in each of the country studies-underemployment, vulnerable employment, the working poor, and less stringent conditions to qualify as unemployed-and concludes that joblessness is far more pervasive than commonly assumed in the literature. The book also shows that the essence of joblessness in Sub-Saharan Africa has to do with low productivity and low employability (human capital). Solutions will require a holistic approach combining macroeconomic strategies, interventions to raise productivity and quality of work, public health (especially during early childhood), and education, in addition to conventional labour market measures. The book stresses that the effectiveness of programs and projects must be tested

using randomized controlled trials or other vigorous methods. It reviews measures that have been adopted in Sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere, and finds that many of them have proven less effective than intended. Finally, it contends that research is fundamental in finding innovative solutions, and suggests areas where further research is promising.