This paper examines youth vulnerabilities, with a particular emphasis on low- and middle-income countries. It touches on the challenges confronted by young people exposed to extreme, life-threatening circumstances, such as political violence and armed conflict, but focuses on vulnerabilities that emerge in key transitions experienced by most young people, such as those linked to school, work, partnership and parenthood. Such vulnerabilities not only hold young people back, but also are a barrier to capitalising on the demographic dividend. The paper employs a life-course perspective, highlighting the relationship between early influences and later outcomes, and examining individual life trajectories within a societal context. It draws on a range of secondary sources, and it makes extensive use of life-course analysis from Young Lives, a longitudinal study of children growing up in poverty in Ethiopia, Andhra Pradesh (India), Peru and Viet Nam. It concludes by highlighting policy implications.
In a guest blog for the UNDP Human Development Report Office, Abby Hardgrove asks: What’s the Problem? Youth and Vulnerability in a Global Perspective, 7 May 2014