Close

Forgot your password?

Choose a newsletter




Premium access provided by ENSTA

Your premium access provided by ENSTA

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by NRC Q

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to NRC Q.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by EM-LYON

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to EM-LYON.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by Goldsmiths

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to Goldsmiths.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by Worldcrunch HQ

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to Worldcrunch HQ.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by MINES Alès Alumni

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to MINES Alès Alumni.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by ESCP Europe Alumni

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to ESCP Europe Alumni.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by IONIS Education Group

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to IONIS Education Group.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by SOAS University of London

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to SOAS University of London.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by Contact Expats

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 8 weeks thanks to Contact Expats.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by MinnPost

You have been given free premium access to Worldcrunch for 6 months thanks to MinnPost.

Enter your email to begin

Premium access granted to you by Expatica

You've been given FREE premium access to Worldcrunch

Enter your email to begin

Worldcrunch

Counting Latin America's 'NiNi' Youth: No Studies, No Work - No Hope?

This growing phenomenon is showing up across the region, a potential sign of entrenched unemployment and even deeper social malaise.

Article illustrative image Partner logo Teenage kicks in Argentina

SANTIAGO - They are called the “NiNi” brigade, from the Spanish phrase “Ni Estudian Ni Trabajan” – youths who neither study nor work. It is a category that can be confusing – the difference between idle time and official unemployment tied up in whether the person declares that are "actively seeking work."

Some studies suggest that Latin America includes 18% of young people between 15 and 18 who could be classified as “NiNis;” other figures indicate that some 14% are technically among the unemployed.

With increasing studies and reports on NiNi youths, we need to dig a little deeper on the definition of this group, the difficulty of counting them and defining whom this label applies to -- and ultimately, the causes behind this phenomenon.

Who are the NiNis really? With the exception of Peru, about 70% to 80% of NiNis are concentrated in the three lowest income categories. The interesting thing is that this concentration is evident in countries with the highest per capita incomes in the region such as Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina and Panama. By contrast, in poorer countries, such as Honduras and the Dominican Republic, the proportion of NiNis is roughly divided across all income quintiles.

One interesting statistic that jumps right out: the majority of NiNis are girls. The most dramatic difference is in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador where there are three times more NiNi girls (aged 15 to 19) than boys.

What are the potential problems with counting the NiNis? For instance, household surveys only take into account the reference week or the reference month when the survey was taken. Then, among the NiNis there can be many young people who are studying but are taking courses or who are disabled, young people who are looking for work but not during the appointed "reference week," and girls who are already housewives, with teenage pregnancies.

Not looking for work

For instance, take Brazil. Among 15-24 year-olds, 46.39% are studying and 53.61% are not. Of those who are not studying, 18.98% neither study nor work. Some studies characterize this group as NiNis. Considering the definition of unemployment, we see that 72.4% took no action in finding a job, which leaves us with a group of 13.7% who neither study nor work nor are looking for a job. The interesting thing is that the number is much higher when the youths have between 11 and 12 years of education, equivalent to having completed or be about to complete high school. In this case, the majority aren’t from ethnic minorities; they are of mixed-race or white.

The fine line between being unemployed and being a NiNi is quite narrow, especially in countries where there are no unemployment registration systems. The number of young people who report they are looking for work increases if one looks at one month or two months.

The implications for public policy to address the issue of NiNis should take into account the heterogeneity of this group. The high number of girls may indicate cultural practices, teenage pregnancies, young women becoming housewives or taking care of family members. In this group, there are also youths who cannot work because of physical or emotional issues, a topic that has been worked extensively in other countries but it is new in Latin America.

Also in this group of NiNis are people who have stopped looking for work because of lack of motivation, lack of opportunity or after long periods of unemployment. This can happen to people who have completed high school and seek employment in the formal sector, but find no opportunities. The fact that the percentage of NiNis increases with 11 and 12 years of schooling and plummets with 13 years (University level) is consistent with the high levels of unemployment among young people with just secondary education.

Sign up for our weekly Global Life newsletter now


Be a part of the conversation. Click to show comments
About this article source Website: http://www.americaeconomia.com/

America Economi­a is Latin America's leading business magazine, founded in 1986 by Elias Selman and Nils Strandberg. Headquartered in Santiago, Chile, it features a region-wide monthly edition and regularly updated articles online, as well as country-specific editions in Chile, Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico.

Load More Stories

Unlimited access to exclusive journalism, the best world news source across all your devices

Subscribe Now Photo of Worldcrunch on different devices

Your premium access to Worldcrunch is provided by

University of Central Lancashire

Please register to begin


By registering you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.