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Youth unemployment in an international context

This chart shows changes in the youth and adult unemployment ratios in a number of countries between 2003 and 2011. The youth unemployment ratio is calculated by dividing the number of 15-24 year old unemployed people by the population aged 15-24 years. The size of the bubbles represents population differences.   

The data highlights some important features of the UK’s youth unemployment problem in an international context:

  • While the UK is not the worst performer, youth unemployment in the UK is higher than the EU and the OECD averages, and is far worse than the best performing countries.
  • Youth unemployment in the UK has also been rising faster than in most other countries
  • Countries such as Spain, Ireland and Greece have fared particularly badly over the period shown.
  • Yet in some countries – such as the Netherlands– the proportion of young people who were unemployed remained unchanged over the period while in Germany it actually fell.
  • While youth unemployment in the UK was rising even before the recession, in many countries the situation was improving before the start of the recession.  
  • Young people are comparatively more disadvantaged than adults in the UK labour market than elsewhere- differences between youth unemployment and adult unemployment rates vary between countries, but youth unemployment rates are noticeably higher in the UK.

Our report International Lessons: Youth unemployment in the global context examines these trends in more detail and takes an exploratory case study approach, looking at particular aspects of the youth labour market in Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia.