The Middle East and North Africa region struggled to meet the employment aspirations of its increasingly educated youth in the aftermath of structural reforms. This article examines the evolution of initial labor market outcomes across pre- and post-reform cohorts of school leavers by education and socioeconomic status (SES) in Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia. Results show that formal jobs for educated new entrants are increasingly allocated according to SES, as measured by parents’ education and father’s occupation, in Egypt and Tunisia, but not in Jordan. In Egypt and Tunisia, the quality of initial jobs deteriorated for educated new entrants, particularly among those with lower SES. This rising tide of inequality of opportunity in employment may have contributed to the Arab Spring uprisings and remains an important source of frustration for youth and their families.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Research supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation on “Youth and Vulnerability in the Middle East” to the Economic Research Forum. The authors appreciate literature review assistance from Sohel Rana. Participants in the POMEPS/ILR workshop “Labor Transformation and Regime Transition: Lessons from the Middle East and North Africa” provided helpful comments on the paper, particularly discussants Gary Fields and Bessma Momani.
© The Author(s) 2022.
- school-to-work transition