April 27, 2012 | Contribution by
Professor Ragui Assaad
Thematic Leader on Labor Issues at the Economic Research Forum in Egypt and the University of Minnesota
Interviewed by the JKP on March 13, 2012
Youth unemployment (ages 15-24) is often two to three times total unemployment, and the picture is particularly bleak in the Middle East and North Africa, where demographic patterns are adding urgency to the need to expand job opportunities. Ragui Assaad, Professor in University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Thematic Leader on labor issues at the Economic Research Forum, specializes in labor policy, informal markets, and urban planning in developing countries. We asked his thoughts on the youth job picture in the Arab countries, including the role of unemployment in the Arab Spring, current youth expectations, and the prospects for dynamic private sectors. He points to the breakdown of the social contract, the need for informal sector jobs as an interim solution, and the private sector's potential to provide small- and medium-size entrepreneurs.