YOUTH BULGE IN PAKISTAN: ISSUES OF UNEMPLOYMENT
The period of life which the youth represents is the most productive and useful period by virtue of the nascent energies they are endowed with by nature. This is why young men and women constitute the most productive segment of their societies. No wonder, countries around the world are investing heavily on the development of this human resource.
With a projected population of around 188 million, Pakistan is ranked as the sixth most populous country in the world. Not only is Pakistan’s population increasing faster than any other developing nations, its population profile is undergoing a major change. The number of working age population is expected to be double in the coming 20 years. And in order to absorb these millions of new entrants in the job market, an estimated 36 million new jobs will need to be created in the coming ten years alone.
The term “Youth Bulge” was first coined by a German Social Scientist, Gunnar Heinsohn in the 1990’s, however, it gained popularity more recently, after rich contributions to the theory by two American Political Scientists, Gary Fuller and Jack A. Goldstone.
Youth Bulge, or the abundance of young adults, is due to a stage of development where countries achieve success in reducing infant mortality rates, but mothers still have a very high fertility rates. As a result, there is a very large number of children and young adults in a population, and today’s children are tomorrow’s adults.
When a country experiencing a youth bulge, as the young adults enter the working age, the country’s “Dependency ratio”, the ratio of non-working age population to the working –age population, will decline. This is characterized by an increase in net saving, because of which there more resources are available for future investments. If the new entrants in the job market could be productively employed, this demographic dividend will turn into social, political and economic dividend. However, if large number of young adults are unable to find gainful employment and earn a satisfactory income, the results could be disastrous.
YOUTH BULGE, UNEMPLOYMENT AND CIVIL CONFLICTS:
The Youth Bulge theory represents one of the most recently developed theories of wars and civil conflicts and unrest. The main proponents of the theory are Gunnar Heinsohn, Gary Fuller and Jack A. Goldstone. The theory contends that a prominent rise in the proportion of working age population often leads to high unemployment rates, due to which a large population of young cohorts are unable to find fruitful employment and earn a satisfactory living. This ultimately breeds frustration, along with diminishing self-esteem and anger. Such a frustrated group of adults are highly vulnerable and can easily be misguided by negative elements around.
Social scientists even hold a surge in young population responsible for historical events such as the European colonialism, the rise of fascism in Europe, Cold War and so on. More recently, it is being suggested that the Arab Spring and the ongoing Yemen crisis are partly because of a very high youth bulge and an alarmingly high rate of unemployment in the region. Similarly, North and Sub-Saharan Africa are following a similar pattern.
An Enabling environments in which this invaluable human resource attains the optimal growth potential, equipped with the requisite character strength and motivation to participate in the main stream of the practical life is imperative. The youth, as it discovers the world of practical life with curiosity, is also impressionable and, therefore, vulnerable to many diverse influences. It is necessary to mature and steer the development of youth in line with Islamic values, the ideology of Pakistan and the norms and aspiration of Pakistani society and culture. To achieve this objective, a number of challenges being faced by the youth have to be addressed and opportunities opened up to them to unleash their energies.