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Experts sound alarm over social impact of youth unemployment

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AMMAN — Youth make up 2.2 million of Jordan’s population, nearly a fifth of the total population. Of those 2.2 million, 40 percent are unemployed and seeking jobs, according to statistics from the Higher Population Council shared in celebration of International Youth Day on Friday. اضافة اعلان

This year’s Youth Day slogan is “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages,” which aims to highlight the need for cross generational efforts to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).

While one of the SDGs’ is “decent work and economic growth,” experts who spoke to Jordan News raised concerns regarding the lack of job opportunities and the potential impact on society. 

Sociological expert Hussein Al-Khozahe emphasized that the 40 percent statistic is “worrisome, especially since we know that 87 percent of women who have a bachelor’s degree are unemployed”.

“Half of them (women) are in families where there is no male figure to provide,” he said, highlighting the necessity for these women to find jobs.

And while official numbers state that 23 percent of university graduates are registered with the Civil Service Bureau, “76 percent of youth do not recognize the legitimacy of the bureau and do not register with it,” he said. “This is why the published numbers are not accurate,” he proclaimed.

Sociologist Hussein Mahadeen blamed unemployment on socioeconomic changes from accelerated privatization. “The government abandoned its role in terms of creating jobs. Meanwhile the private sector invested in efficiency, productivity, and profitability,” he said.

The lack of job opportunities and the unemployment rate are “forcing youth to immigrate in search of jobs and better self-esteem, especially as the question of ‘how long will we remain dependent on our parents’” looms overhead, Khozahe said.

A recent survey published by Arab Barometer on migration in the MENA region revealed that nearly half of Jordanians, 48 percent, want to leave the Kingdom. Of those 48 percent, 93 percent say it is for economic reasons.

The same survey revealed that 63 percent of those wishing to migrate are between 18 to 29, and 56 percent among them are men.

Mahadeen concurred with Khozahe’s sentiment stating that “unemployment affects the individual and society by imposing social disintegration and causing the collapse of the traditional value system. This is evident through the high rates of immigration.”

The average marriage age is also impacted by unemployment said Khozahe. “For men, the average marriage age is now 31 and for women it is 27”. Mahadeen said that in terms of marriage, unemployment “will increase the rates of divorce and dismiss the idea of ... family building.”

Unemployment is also leading youth “to distrust state institutions, fall into depression, and resent society,” said Khozahe.

The lack of opportunities is leading youth to feel as though there is no chance for them at a decent life and an acceptable minimum income, said Mahadeen. 

“This will increase the suicide and violence rates in all its forms and trigger conflicts within the same family,” he added.


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