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Cross-post: a (somewhat provocative) piece from the IDS Blog, addressing the increasing focus in many development programmes on bringing “youth” into labour markets, and some of the issues that are missed in the process.
Youth and young people are becoming a hot topic among development donors and actors. But who exactly do these “labels” apply to, and are they too broad for effective policies? Or do they create too narrow a focus which is blind to larger structural issues?
Varyingly, youth are identified as “at risk” – of unemployment, of marginalisation or abuses – or “as risk”, where they may engage in undesirable activities from crime to terrorism, armed violence or migration. However, there are also many calls to understand youth “as opportunity”, particularly in the context of Africa’s “youth bulge” and its promise of a vast demographic dividend.
A recent visit to the Dutch Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) and some great discussions with research colleagues there, brought some clarity into the interlinked promises and problems arising from development actors’ burgeoning interest in youth and work. Clearly, a better understanding of the specific vulnerabilities and needs of particular young subpopulations is useful, and related efforts should be welcomed.
But if applied wrongly, a simplistic focus on young people (or a narrow “youth lens”) may obscure more than it illuminates. The reasons include categories that are too unclear, heterogeneous needs and what a “youth” focus misses.
In the context of questions around young people’s labour market prospects, particularly in agriculture, which both IDS and KIT are working on, these are particularly salient.
This guest post is provided by Milford Bateman who is a Visiting Professor of Economics at Juraj Dobrila University of Pula in Croatia and a development consultant. He recently accepted a two-month position as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Development Studies at St Mary’s University in Nova Scotia, Canada, to be taken up in late 2013.
Four of the most high-profile research teams have in recent months released papers summarising the results of multi-year projects that aimed to assess the impact of microcredit. All of these projects claim to have found some small residual value in the increasingly de-bunked concept of microcredit which, the authors quickly go on to say, suggests to them that it is too early to agree with the growing number of nay-sayers and abandon the microcredit model in favour of other local development models. The four papers I refer to are:
- (most recently) ‘Win Some Lose Some? Evidence from a Randomized Microcredit Program Placement Experiment by Compartamos Banco’ by Manuela Angelucci, Dean Karlan, and Jonathan Zinman (hereafter AKZ
- ‘Microfinance at the Margin: Experimental Evidence from Bosnia and Herzegovina’ by Britta Augsburg, Ralph De Haas, Heike Harmgart and Costas Meghir (hereafter AHHM)
- ‘The Miracle of Microfinance? Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation’ by Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banerjee, Rachel Glennerster and Cynthia G. Kinnan (hereafter DBGK)
- ‘Are microcredit participants in Bangladesh trapped in poverty and debt?’ by Shahidur R. Khandker and Hussain A. Samad (hereafter KS).
Dazzling econometrics and pioneering impact methodologies aside, the most important thing these four papers all have in common is actually something else: they all go to great lengths to avoid exploring the most awkward downside issues that lie at the heart of microcredit and, to do so, they choose to deploy some faulty logic along the way. Read the rest of this entry »
It is a sad occasion which currently reminds us of questions about large-distance solidarity, transnational communities and commitment – topics which the workshop Mobility and Civil Society: How Social Commitment Takes Place addresses at the University Freiburg, Germany, in December.
During the last weeks, the second largest industrial tragedy in history has raised public awareness and debate about global inequality of international labor protection once again. The Rana Plaza complex close to Dhaka, Bangladesh, collapsed on April 24. As the rescue work around the former Tung Hai garment factory is still not completed, the reported death toll moves up to around a thousand people. Yesterday, eight people died in another fire in a garment factory in Dhaka.