Youth Unemployment Worldwide

The youth employment rate is one of the primary indicators used to determine a nation’s economic performance, and high percentages are a clear indicator of an inability for young people to achieve self-sufficiency and personal fulfillment.

Youth unemployment rates comprise the proportion of persons aged between 15 and 24 who are not working and who are actively seeking work. It is a specific indication of the inability of an economy to generate sufficient employment for its population. The youth unemployment rate of a given country is determined by dividing the number of unemployed youth (from the population aged between 15 and 24 years old willing and able to work) by the total population of its youth labor force. The whole number of youth labor force is given by the sum of the youth employed, the youth unemployed, and the youth not desiring, or unable, to work. As you will see, countries in and around southern and southeastern Europe appear especially afflicted by this problem.

Post-Yugoslav Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina


The country which currently has the highest prevalence of youth unemployment is Spain, with a 57.9% youth unemployment rate. This could be attributed to residual effects of the 2007/2008 financial crisis, which saw unemployment rates skyrocket everywhere, but significantly in Spain which saw a staggering amount of job loss. this loss of jobs was seen dramatically within the real estate industry. Although the rates of unemployment do vary based on region, the high rates have still had considerable social consequences such as decreased birth rate, and increase in personal debt levels.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

At 57.5 percent, the youth unemployment rate of Bosnia and Herzegovina rank behind Greece only by a slim margin. Conflicts have rocked the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina since the Yugoslavian dissolution and subsequent conflicts of the early 1990s. Also, regional companies from other Balkan states make it hard for local entities to be competitive, even within their local markets. Additionally, discriminatory employment practices have been pointed at as an explanation for such high rates of youth unemployment. Political instability, corruption, and bureaucracy have also been blamed.

Greece's Economic Recession

The country with the third-highest youth unemployment rate is Greece, with 55.3% youth unemployment. Greece has experienced a severe economic recession and deep cuts in public spending over the past seven years, contributing to Greece having the highest youth unemployment rate in the European Union. Even if European creditors agreed to lend 86 billion euros to help prop up the country’s fledgling economy, the funds will bring ultimately bring further rounds of austerity measures in the future. Brain drain, the term for skilled educated professionals who leave the country for opportunities located elsewhere, has also been noted as a contributing factor to Greece's high rate of unemployment.

Turning It Around

Other countries registering high youth unemployment rates are South Africa (52.6%), Serbia (49.5%), Libya (48.9%), Mauritania (46.6%), Croatia (45.9%), and Italy (44.1%). While it’s clear that a high youth unemployment rates result from economic recession and poor legislation, the liberalization of labor markets, combined with strengthened legal systems, may make many of these countries better enabled to solve the unemployment issues of youth and the populace at large.

Youth Unemployment Rate per Country

RankCountryYouth Unemployment Rate
1Spain57.9 %
2Bosnia and Herzegovina57.5 %
3Greece53.9 %
4South Africa52.6 %
5Macedonica, FYR50.2 %
6Serbia49.5 %
7Libya48.9 %
8Mauritania46.6 %
9Croatia45.9 %
10Italy44.1 %
11West Bank and Gaza42.7 %
12Swaziland42.6 %
13Egypt, Arab Rep.42.0 %
14Mozambique40.7 %
15Montenegro39.5 %
16Namibia38.7 %
17Portugal36.8 %
18Cyprus35.7 %
19Gabon35.5 %
20Armenia35.1 %
21Iraq34.6 %
22Georgia34.1 %
23Botswana14.8 %
24Leosotho33.0 %
25Tunisia31.8 %

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