Unemployed/underemployed educated individuals are more likely to support violent extremism with unemployed secondary educated people having the highest probability for radicalization followed by tertiary educated unemployed/underemployed.
This paper represents a contribution to the literature on the relationship between economic development and radicalization or support for violent extremism. It uses survey data from eight Arab countries to analyze how education and unemployment affect support for violent extremism. Previous empirical work has failed to demonstrate any link between unemployment and radicalization. Our analysis shows that, while it seems to be true that unemployment on its own does not impact radicalization, unemployment among the educated leads to a greater probability of radicalization. Hence, our work provides empirical support to the view that relative deprivation is an important driver of support for violent extremism. Individuals whose expectations for economic improvement and social mobility are frustrated are at a greater risk of radicalization.
Our conclusion that unemployed or underemployed educated Arab youth are more likely to be radicalized is cause for serious concern, because unemployment in many Arab countries seems to rise with the level of education, and many new graduates are only able to find low-paying jobs in the informal sector.15 This underlines the importance of education and labor market reforms for preventing violent extremism.
More research on education in the Arab world is needed. Steer et al (2014) point out that, while Arab countries have succeeded in rapidly increasing access to education, the quality of education remains a problem. Using data from 13 Arab countries, they conclude that about 48 percent of lower secondary school students are not learning. They fail basic literacy and numeracy tests.
Even those who learn are not equipped with the skills required in a 21st century market place. Curricula in Arab countries rely too much on rote learning and do not help students acquire skills, like problem solving and working in teams, demanded in today’s globalized markets.
Arab education systems seem to have been geared toward producing public sector employees, and many Arab youth continue to express a preference for public employment. But Arab public sectors are no longer able to hire the large numbers of graduates that come out of schools and universities every year. This means that young people graduate from Arab schools and universities with diplomas, but many of them have either not learnt; or have learnt but the skills they acquired do not match those demanded by the labor market. From their perspective they have fulfilled their part of the social contract. They have studied and passed exams, and their families have born the financial burden of their education. They feel frustrated because by failing to provide them with jobs that reflect their level of educational attainment society is not respecting its part of the contract.
The problem is not only with education, or the supply of labor. There is also a serious problem with the demand for labor, and more research on Arab labor markets and business environment is needed. Schiffbauer et al (2015) argue that policies in many Arab countries have been captured by a few politically connected firms. Hence, they create privileges rather than an open and transparent business environment that encourages private sector growth and job creation. Many educated youth have to wait, sometimes for years, in order to get a job. Those who cannot wait join the informal sector where wages are low and where there is no job security or social protection. Whether unemployed or underemployed in the informal sector, educated youth feel that they have a serious grievance against society.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at How do education and unemployment affect support for violent extremism? Evidence from eight Arab countries
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