Drama of young neither-nors who don’t study or work


A quarter of Brazilians aged 15–29 are poor, black, and women, illustrating inequality.

She was 15 when Rio de Janeiro native Carolina Cristina de Barros tested positive for pregnancy. Yan Lucas was born in July 2016, forcing the young lady to stop studying and become a single mother. She never got aid from her lover, her father.

Born in 2000, Carolina confronts the millennium’s “neither-neither” youth who don’t study or work. Youth worldwide are affected by the issue, but poverty, race, and gender in Brazil make it worse.

The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) reports that 10.9 million 15–29-year-old Brazilians do not study or work, 22.3% of this age group.

These young individuals are mostly impoverished (61.2%) and female (63.4%). About 43.3% are black or dark women. All three figures include Carolina. She lives alone with her kid in Senador Camará, a Bangu slum in Rio de Janeiro’s west zone.
I leave my CV on the street, but it’s hard. I’m black and couldn’t complete school. In other words, first job, unfinished education, no experience… They reject my CV “, says the 23-year-old lady.

Brazil has one of the worst rates of young people in this condition among 38 nations, according to the OECD. The Education at a Glance report from 2023 places the nation ahead of South Africa, Colombia, Chile, the Czech Republic, and Turkey. In Brazil, 24.4% of 18-to-24-year-olds are out of school and working, compared to 14.7% in other nations.


GDP loss estimated at R$46.3 billion

Since a workforce may span decades, the proportion of young people who neither study nor work is a significant indication of youth fragility and the loss of production potential in an economy.

If this people worked in Brazil, the 2022 GDP would have expanded by R$46.3 billion. A research issued this month (15/01) based on IBGE data claims the account is from the CNC.
Based on 2022 statistics, the OECD research emphasizes the need for governments to create public measures to avoid or swiftly remove young people from this predicament. Young adults who struggle to transition from school to the labor market might face long-term effects, and the longer they stay in this condition, the harder it is to escape.


Wasted potential

Denise Guichard, an economist and IBGE analyst, believes the government, industry, and society must focus more on disadvantaged youth.

“We must protect today’s young. Lost production and human capital are tremendous. She stresses that 11 million youth are unemployed and undereducated, wasting chances. “People lose, and the country loses.”

Nem-nem is the Portuguese equivalent of NEET.

Many dislike the statement because it implies the young person is to blame. Some economists prefer “without-without”—without education and without employment—to emphasize the inequities and lack of possibilities at the basis of the issue.

Low-quality education, lack of job market access, and disparity of opportunity and training are reasons young people drop out and work.


Obstacle race

Geovani Cunha, 21, graduated three years ago but hasn’t found a job despite constantly circulating CVs.

His struggles reflect those of poor and brown young people like him, from weak public education (“teachers were more absent than they were present”) to the stigma he feels when leaving his favela for Rio’s more affluent south zone (“we see judgment in people’s eyes”). In the south, all blacks are slum inhabitants, bums, thieves “).

“I’m pursuing it, but it’s hard. Wake up early to submit your CV, knowing I’ll go without lunch, feeling nauseous in the heat in the employment line. Eat or not, the boss doesn’t care about your troubles.”

The youngster wants to join the military. He passed two examinations to become a fireman and marine, but he couldn’t continue since he couldn’t afford medical exams.

Grandparents raised Geovani. He seldom sees his mother; his father was imprisoned and died in a motorbike accident owing to medical neglect. The young guy went to Rio from Mangaratiba, two hours outside the capital, since there were no employment.

Today, he lives with his aunt in Vila Vintém, west Rio. He changes light bulbs, fixes electrical cabling, and sells sweets on the 30-km train from Realengo to the Central do Brasil station in the Center to subsist while seeking for work.

Geovani observed buddies smuggle drugs. He saw murder. Money travels via crime “at the doorstep, walking in the square”, he says.

It feels like everything is going wrong. Life misdirects us. He believes his trust in Umbanda supports him “Thank God, I’ve always had my head straight”.

Unfair burden on women

Many young individuals without education or jobs regard labor market restrictions as remote. This is because 66% of them are not even seeking for a job, and gender roles are most prominent there.

Caregiving for family or housework is the main cause. This impacts women, particularly black women, disproportionately. Of the 7.1 million unemployed youth, 2.5 million are women doing housework or family care.

Denise Guichard says women struggle to escape this statistic over time. The IBGE expert said “Men jump in and enter the job market, but women stop”.

Yan Lucas turns 8 this year. Carolina, almost 24, survives on R$600 monthly from Bolsa Família and her earnings from manicurist and hairdressing in the area. “We were in a pinch, but I ran after him to give him things,” she adds.

Carolina has signed up for a night supplement to finish high school after deciding to leave early motherhood. The municipal school course lets women without help send their children to school.

Carolina aims to improve her work prospects by graduating high school. She wants to pursue nursing.

“I’m eager for courses. Finish school and this period of my life shortly. She says “start 2024 differently”.

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