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Causes of Youth Unemployment

People need a sufficient income to procure a life of full value, not to mention that self-realization is necessary for stable mental health. However, young people sometimes do not manage to find an occupation when they are at a mature age. The problem of youth unemployment has become a global socio-economic issue nowadays. The current paper investigates the possible causes of youth unemployment.

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Many economic processes are inevitable, and so are economic crises causing difficulties with employment. That is why countries with higher rates of unemployment are usually those where a crisis has happened recently. However, it is unclear why there is youth unemployment instead of general unemployment in some communities. It seems that it is easier for employed people to save their job than for a recent student to find a sufficient occupation.

Moreover, immigrants often undergo more hardship in finding an occupation because of discrimination. Furthermore, although youth unemployment is primarily a socio-economical problem, one can also consider the psychological aspects of the issue. People have to overcome the difficult circumstances of being unemployed, which influences their mental state. Youth unemployment is also probably connected with insufficient skills and experience, as well as with the influence of closer relatives and friends. The crucial problem of youth unemployment is caused by a lack of motivation, qualification mismatch, social connections influence, and multicultural issues.

To start with, the lack of motivation for finding and maintaining is one of the reasons for youth unemployment. Young people have an unstable cognitive system, which can prevent them from making important life-changing decisions. Moreover, the anticipating of usual uncomfortable starting conditions can also be a reason for people to avoid any occupation (Hällsten, Edling, & Rydgren, 2017). In other words, young people have an unpleasant image of joining labor, which is why they prefer not to start. This avoidance is probably even stronger in families with a considerable income and where living with parents at a mature age is accepted as normal.

Another probable cause of youth unemployment is the lack of necessary qualifications among young people. This factor can be divided into two aspects, namely, formal education and experience. The educational system in some countries may be insufficient or not up-to-date for the actual job market. It has been shown that low school performance has a strong positive correlation with unemployment in youth (Doku, Acacio-Claro, Koivusilta, & Rimpelä, 2019). Moreover, graduates’ qualifications may be irrelevant to the current market demands, which obstructs school-to-work transition. Thus, if an educational institution does not provide relevant knowledge, young people have fewer chances to get a job.

As to the experience, it is common for firm managers to look for workers with relatively extensive experience in the position. In other words, employers would rather hire an employee with stable skills and abilities because it will save recourses that would have been spent on the training of an inexperienced worker (Dietrich & Möller, 2016). The problem is that young people hardly have an opportunity to get the necessary experience because they have to devote all of their time to studying. The problem becomes even more complicated because they need this education to get access to practice.

The social environment may also cause low employment of young people because they tend to repeat after each other. That is why if most of the people in a company of young people have a job, each of them will likely try to get an occupation more eagerly (Hällsten et al., 2017). Furthermore, examples of relatives and previous generations can be implicitly acquired by children. For instance, a significant correlation between parental socio-economic status (SES) and employment has been shown in the study by Doku et al. (2019). Moreover, the initial occupational contacts are often determined by the connections that closer employed relatives, such as parents, possess (Hällsten et al., 2017). Thus, youth unemployment is reproducible among close friends and relatives, and individuals’ careers can influence the occupation of other people.

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Furthermore, multicultural issues can be considered as a possible factor of youth unemployment. Migration is happening worldwide, and immigrants in many countries are trying to find an opportunity to get money and homes. For young people, this aspect is of particular significance because they not only have to acquire professional skills but also to adapt to a foreign culture. Such conditions are often hardly bearable, which serves as an obstacle for both tasks. Consequently, young people from immigrant communities have to manage multiple issues that slow down their development. Moreover, it is more likely that local people will be hired in overpopulated places with a lack of jobs (Hällsten et al., 2017). Therefore, young immigrants face discrimination, even when they possess the necessary qualifications.

However, in some countries, it can be the case that youth unemployment is not a problem but a statistical description. Young people frequently change their jobs because they are in search of the working conditions they desire. According to Dietrich and Möller (2016), the constant changing of a workplace results in a higher aggregated unemployment rate. Therefore, young people may be in a reasonable process of searching for the place they belong to because there is no other way to get a vivid idea of a suitable occupation.

It is important to note that most of the studies are correlational and that is why caution should be taken when deriving conclusions about causal relations. Distinguishing between causes and effects is not a trivial task. When a correlation is made between young people’s unemployment and their friends’, it is hard to say if friends influence their unwillingness to be unemployed, or if they just befriend unemployed people. Most of the factors suggested in the literature are connected, and it is unclear which one is primary. For example, SES is connected to access to technology, quality of education, and mental health. Suggesting one factor as the main cause must be done by someone who is competent enough and has clear reasoning.

To conclude, the problem of youth unemployment is multimodal because it includes economic, social, and psychological factors. There has been thorough research on the problem, and some presumable reasons were outlined. The prospect of looking for a job and starting from a low position causes anxiety about working and lowers motivation to make a career. Moreover, some educational systems provide irrelevant skills for current job demands, yet students spend most of their resources on studying and cannot get experience in their profession either.

This situation worsens in numerous multicultural societies because most employers prefer to hire local citizens instead of young immigrants. Although youth unemployment can sometimes be considered as a normal process of youth immersion into the labor market, it is crucial to take action to improve the situation where the situation is undoubtedly unfavorable.


Dietrich, H., & Möller, J. (2016). Youth unemployment in Europe – Business cycle and institutional effects. International Economics and Economic Policy, 13(1), 5–25.

Doku, D. T., Acacio-Claro, P. J., Koivusilta, L., & Rimpelä, A. (2019). Health and socioeconomic circumstances over three generations as predictors of youth unemployment trajectories. European Journal of Public Health, 29(3), 517–523.

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Hällsten, M., Edling, C., & Rydgren, J. (2017). Social capital, friendship networks, and youth unemployment. Social Science Research, 61, 234–250.

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