Working Paper
Vulnerable employment of Egyptian, Jordanian, and Tunisian youth

Trends and determinants

Youths in the Middle East and North Africa face the highest unemployment rates in the world. Those who are employed are pushed to accept informal sector jobs that are insecure, unsafe, and lack non-wage benefits. Precarious employment is pervasive among lower socio-economic groups, leading to the perpetuation of misery across generations.

Understanding employment outcomes therefore requires a broad focus encompassing the access to decent work, the evolution in this access over time, and the initial conditions. We analyse the static nature of vulnerable employment—especially youth unemployment and informality—and workers’ transitions to decent work using multinomial logistic regressions and recent Labour Market Panel Surveys for Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia.

We find growing trends of vulnerable employment, particularly for youth cohorts. Especially in Egypt and Tunisia, children of poorer and less-educated parents start out in vulnerable jobs and are unlikely to ever attain formal employment. Wealth effects follow them throughout their careers.