This literature review looks at whether there is evidence of a causal link between youth unemployment and violence in developing countries, focusing on crime, gang violence and domestic violence. It also looks at female youth unemployment, donor programming, and areas where more research is needed.
A causal link between youth unemployment and violence is widely assumed, but solid evidence of such a link is lacking. It is not that available data disprove a link but rather that there are insufficient data to establish a link.
However, some studies throw doubt on the presumed link by indicating that youth unemployment is only one of a mix of factors contributing to violence. Others could include weak governance, strong leadership offered by armed groups, availability of weapons, widespread drug use, dysfunctional family relationships and a culture of acceptance of violence.
The objectives of donors’ youth employment programmes vary: some aim to promote development and poverty reduction; others specifically aim to reduce armed violence. Youth employment also features in violence (crime) prevention programmes.
Irrespective of their goal, interventions under youth employment programmes are similar:
- skills development and vocational training
- entrepreneurship promotion
- changes in legislation/regulations to encourage youth employment
- engagement with the private sector and public works schemes
Idris, I. Youth unemployment and violence: Rapid literature review. GSDRC, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2016) 40p