Socioeconomic Status and the Changing Nature of School-to-Work Transitions in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia

Source: Economic Research Forum

Author(s): Ragui Assaad, Caroline Krafft and Colette Salemi

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This paper examines the evolution of initial labor market outcomes across cohorts of school leavers by education and socioeconomic status in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia. As educational attainment has risen, youth in the Middle East and North Africa have experienced increasingly protracted and difficult school to work transitions. The decline in the public sector and the slow growth of the private formal sector have resulted in a limited supply of good jobs. These jobs are increasingly allocated according to socioeconomic status in Egypt and Tunisia, but not in Jordan. In Egypt and Tunisia, we find that the quality of initial jobs deteriorated for educated new entrants, particularly among those with lower socioeconomic status. Protracted school-to-work transitions, with substantial delays in obtaining the first job, remain a challenge in Tunisia. However, in Egypt youth transition relatively quickly to their first job, often into informal jobs, while in Jordan, the “waithood” phenomenon has been declining due to increased opportunities in both the public and private sectors.

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