Out of School Youth, Unemployed Latino Teens can Spell Doom for the Economy

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Feb 12, 2016 11:00 AM EST

There's a new threat to the Latin American economy, and it comes in the form of "ninis," which is short for "ni estudia ni trabaja," alluding to Latino youth aged 15 to 24 who are neither studying nor working.

According to WSWS, the World Bank released a report documenting the number of "ninis" in Latin America, which amounted to over 20 million, two-thirds of which are women. Furthermore, the biggest contributing factor for women to become unemployed or to be out of school was early marriage or teenage pregnancy.

For men, the biggest factor was dropping out of school at a young age, typically followed by unemployment. This setting further leads these "ninis" to work in a string of unstable jobs, having no skills and training from any formal setting, and often not being able to get back into school.

In Peru, about 10.9% of their youth are "ninis," while Honduras and El Salvador show higher rates at more than 25%. The countries with the highest rate of unemployed and out of school youth areBrazil, Columbia, and Mexico, with over 70%, living in cities. The unemployment and out of school problem is even made worse by drug trade in countries such as Colombia, Mexico, and Central America.

The report by World Bank is titled "Out of School and Out of Work : Risk and Opportunities for Latin America’s Ninis" and was co-authored by World Bank senior economist Rafael E. De Hoyos Navarro and lead economist Halsey Rogers. The authors have cited three reasons why the "ninis" problem must be addressed by Latin American governments. These are as follows:

  1. The unemployed and out of school youth contributes to the "intergenerational persistence of inequality," in which 60% of "ninis" come from poor households and are in the bottom 40% of the income distribution.
  2. The unemployment/out of school problem is very much related to crime and violence.
  3. Failing to address this problem can lead to missing out on an "emerging demographic window of opportunity."

According to the report authors, governments can create two policies to reduce the rates of "ninis" in their countries. The first is to keep youth from dropping out of school early. This enables governments to control the flow of new "ninis." Secondly, they should provide employment opportunities to those who are already "ninis."

"This study sets out to do more than just improve our understanding of a pressing issue. It also aims to spotlight the problem for public awareness and give voice to its protagonists: the ninis of Latin America," report authors wrote.

To read the whole report, visit WorldBank.org.

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