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Rethinking Youth, Livelihoods, and Fragility in West Africa : One Size Doesn’t Fit All

SANITATION URBAN GIRLS HOUSEHOLD SIZE NATIONAL YOUTH POLICY WORKFORCE ECONOMIC GROWTH POPULATION REFERENCE BUREAU CULTURAL VALUES KINSHIP URBANIZATION DROPOUTS ABUSE SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS DEPENDENT CHILDREN YOUTH EMPLOYMENT INTERGENERATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS PROSTITUTE FAMILY SUPPORT TERRORIST EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES ROAD ACCIDENTS FAMILY WELFARE YOUTH LIVELIHOODS PRESS RELEASE LABOR FORCE SERVICES PUBLIC SERVICES HEALTH CARE DRUGS PLAN OF ACTION FAMILY MEMBERS UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND GOVERNMENT CAPACITY INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE TECHNICAL SKILLS RURAL YOUTH PUBLICATIONS POPULATION FUND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT HEALTH RISKS FUTURE GENERATIONS VULNERABILITY CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS REGIONAL NETWORKS YOUTH GANGS YOUTH POLICY YOUNG WIVES ACCESS TO EDUCATION DRUG ABUSE PEER GROUPS WORK EXPERIENCE KNOWLEDGE TECHNICAL TRAINING YOUTH CULTURE PUBLIC POLICY LABOR MARKET URBAN MIGRATION HUMAN SECURITY PUBLIC INFORMATION DISEASES TRAINING DRUG TRAFFICKING TRANSPORT SYSTEMS LIVELIHOOD OPPORTUNITIES SEXUALITY CITIZEN MEDICATION MIGRATION RURAL YOUTH EMPLOYMENT ADOPTION VIOLENCE NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT POOR HEALTH GANGS DISSEMINATION VOCATIONAL EDUCATION DISASTERS MARRIAGE SOCIAL SECURITY ECONOMIC CHANGE APPRENTICESHIP NATURAL RESOURCES YOUTH DEVELOPMENT SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT RULE OF LAW CURRENT POPULATION YOUTH PARTICIPATION RADIO GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT MALE YOUTH RESPECT PROGRESS POLITICAL UNREST ADULTHOOD UNIONS UNEMPLOYMENT YOUNG MEN VOCATIONAL TRAINING INVESTMENT IN EDUCATION YOUNG AGE TRANSPORTATION WAGES CLIMATE CHANGE POLICIES ADOLESCENCE INTERNATIONAL TRADE SUBSTANCE ABUSE IMMIGRATION POLICY SMALL ENTERPRISES STREET VENDORS SCHOOLS AGE DIVORCE INCOME-GENERATING ACTIVITIES POLICY MAKERS FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT NATIONAL LEVELS YOUNG “MEN URBAN CENTERS SOCIAL POLICY LIMITED PROSPECTS INTERPERSONAL SKILLS YOUTH EMPOWERMENT BASIC INFRASTRUCTURE FAMILY INCOME URBAN AREAS URBAN YOUTH SOCIAL SCIENCE YOUTH JOB CREATION POPULATION RESEARCH REFUGEES DEVELOPMENT EFFORTS PHYSICAL ABUSE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY YOUTH_POLICY MASCULINITY POLICY CITIZENS OLDER WOMEN REGULATORY REGIMES SOCIAL STATUS POLICY BRIEF ILL HEALTH MINORITY ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES CHILDREN LEVEL OF EDUCATION QUALITY EDUCATION CITIZENSHIP WORKING CONDITIONS WAR NATURAL RESOURCE HEALTH PROBLEMS ACCIDENTS SOCIAL GROUP RURAL AREAS ADOLESCENT YOUNG WOMEN IMMIGRATION ECONOMIC PROGRESS SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION INFECTIONS LIMITED RESOURCES YOUNG PEOPLE SOCIAL COHESION POPULATION GIRLS URBAN WOMEN URBAN BIAS RITES OF PASSAGE CIVIL WAR POLICY FORMULATION SOCIAL CHANGE FAMILIES WOMEN MISUNDERSTANDING YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT LABOR MARKETS YOUTH VIOLENCE PUBLIC SERVICE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION TERTIARY EDUCATION INJURIES FROM ACCIDENTS SOCIAL MOBILITY PEACE POLITICAL INSTABILITY YOUTH POPULATION PEACEKEEPING UNEMPLOYMENT LEVELS SERVICE PROVIDERS DEVELOPMENT POLICY
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World Bank, Washington, DC
Africa | West Africa
2015-08-19T19:37:48Z | 2015-08-19T19:37:48Z | 2015

Africa’s population is young and growing at twice the pace of other continents. A youth bulge presents a series of development policy opportunities and challenges. In this context, simplistic linkages between the youth bulge, high unemployment, and fragility have gained traction and given rise to a youth policy agenda that targets urban male youth as the problem and emphasizes formal sector development as the solution. This paper questions some of the core assumptions that underpin mainstream perceptions of the linkages between youth, employment, and fragility in West Africa, and presents an alternative analysis. The study will use the language of livelihoods to reflect on youth employment experiences, as livelihoods take into account the capabilities, assets (including both material and social resources), and activities required for a means of living beyond traditional ideas of employment, and thus enable a deeper, more sophisticated understanding of the realities of many young West Africans. The paper argues that a nuanced understanding of specific groups of young people and their livelihood activities in their specific social, cultural, political, and economic context is necessary to understand how young peoples’ lives intersect with fragility dynamics. The paper aims to highlight that the relationship between youth, unemployment, underemployment, livelihoods, and fragility is far more complex than is often recognized and should not be exaggerated or taken out of context.

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