Youth poverty is a serious global problem, not least because of the large numbers of youth and children living in absolute poverty in developing countries. In many contexts, youth are relatively likely to experience poverty because of age-based discrimination and the uncertainties and dynamism surrounding the transition from childhood to adulthood. But it is not always the case that youth are disproportionately poor. The relative extent of youth poverty in a given context depends on the interaction of many different factors.
This paper draws upon work by the Chronic Poverty Research Centre to argue that the related concepts of chronic poverty, life-course poverty and intergenerational poverty are useful for understanding youth poverty. First, analysis of the causes of chronic poverty can help locate the relative position of different groups of the poor and facilitate policy prioritisation. Second, life-course events (e.g. leaving school, starting work, having children) play a significant role in shaping vulnerability to poverty. These 'life events' are more likely to occur during particular 'life stages', but stage is only partly related to age. Third, it is important to take an intergenerational perspective because poverty experienced in youth is often linked to parental poverty and childhood deprivation, and - like poverty in childhood or old age - can have implications across the life-course of a young person and that of her/his household.
At the same time that youth may not always be among the poorest or the most vulnerable, adolescence and young adulthood may be the period, after early childhood, in which antipoverty interventions have the most potential for long-term positive change. Constructing and analysing developing country panel datasets (quantitative and qualitative) can foster the development of suitable interventions, appropriately timed.
Thinking about youth poverty through the lenses of chronic poverty, life-course poverty and intergenerational poverty, CPRC Working Paper No. 57, IDPM/Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), ISBN Number: 1-904049-56-7, 26 pp.