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.