Report

NEETs in Canada – 11.1% of Canadian youth, more likely to have poorer self-reported physical and mental health

Youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) are considered to be at risk for long-term economic and social difficulties. The number of youth NEET is important to Canada and has also become a global issue, as evidenced by its inclusion as an indicator in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. To date, most of the Canadian studies on this topic have focused on the sociodemographic characteristics of youth NEET and on their educational and employment experiences during their transition from school to work. Thus, relatively little is known about the psychosocial well-being of youth NEET in the Canadian context. This report aims to address this gap by providing a psychosocial profile of youth NEET compared with youth non-NEET in Canada.

Using data from three recent Canadian Community Health Survey cycles (2015 to 2017), this study examined a profile of Canadian youth NEET (aged 18 to 29) compared with youth non-NEET. Youth NEET were further divided into three subgroups according to their reported main activity—looking for paid work, caring for children and “other” (i.e., their main activity was not looking for paid work or caring for children).

Overall, 11.1% of Canadian youth in the sample were identified as NEET. Of all youth NEET, 38.0% were looking for paid work, 27.5% were caring for children and 34.5% were classified as “other.” Youth NEET were more likely to be older (25 to 29) and, compared with youth non-NEET, were also more likely to have lower educational attainment and to live in households in the lowest income quintile. Different patterns were observed among the youth NEET subgroups.

Youth NEET were more likely to have poorer self-reported physical and mental health, and lower physical activity levels. They were also more likely to report mood and anxiety disorders and to have suicidal thoughts. Once again, different patterns emerged among the youth NEET subgroups. Notably, youth NEET who were looking for paid work or caring for children had some health characteristics comparable with youth non-NEET, but those who were classified as “other” had consistently poorer characteristics compared with youth non-NEET.

Youth NEET were more likely to be daily cigarette smokers, but the percentage of those who reported illicit drug use in the past year was similar to youth non-NEET. In contrast, youth NEET were less likely to engage in binge drinking in the past year compared with youth non-NEET, but this gap was mainly driven by youth NEET who were caring for children and youth NEET in the “other” subgroup.

Youth NEET also had lower levels of life satisfaction compared with youth non-NEET. Youth NEET who were looking for paid work had the lowest levels of life satisfaction, while youth NEET who were caring for children had comparable life satisfaction with youth non-NEET.

These differences largely remained similar after controlling for gender, age and educational attainment. Overall, these findings indicate various sociodemographic and psychosocial differences between Canadian youth NEET and non-NEET, and also highlight the diversity among youth NEET, particularly in psychosocial well-being. Future research should continue to explore the differences among youth NEET and help develop a better understanding of why youth in Canada become NEET.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at A Profile of Youth Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) in Canada, 2015 to 2017

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