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Socio-demographic analysis of youth in the Caribbean- a three country case study



.--I. Demographic overview.--II. Economic framework.--III. Living arrangements and household composition.--IV. Religious affiliation.--V. Health and well-being.--VI. Migration.--VII. Education.--VIII. Professional training and labour force participation.--IX. Marriage and family formation.--X. Summary and conclusions

Many Caribbean youth are doing reasonably well. They live in loving and caring families, attend school and are involved in various social activities in their communities. The health and well-being of the children and youth1 in the Caribbean is, and has been, the centre of attention of many studies, meetings and policy directives set at the regional, subregional and national levels. Programmes have been put in place to address the basic needs of young children in the areas of health and education and to provide guidance and directives to youth and adolescents in the area of professional formation and transition to adulthood. Critical issues such as reproductive health and family planning combined with access to education and information on these topics have been promoted to some extent. And finally, the Caribbean is known for rather high school enrolment rates in primary education that hardly show any gender disparities. While the situation is still good for some, growing numbers of children and youth cannot cope anymore with the challenges experienced quite early in their lives. Absent parents, instable care-taking arrangements, violence and aggression subjected to at home, in schools and among their friends, lack of a perspective in schools and the labour-market, early sexual initiation and teenage pregnancies are some of those issues faced by a rising number of young persons in this part of the world. Emotional instability, psychological stress and increased violence are one of the key triggers for increased violence and involvement in crime exhibited by ever younger youth and children. Further, the region is grappling with rising drop-out rates in secondary education, declining quality schooling in the classrooms and increasing numbers of students who leave school without formal certification. Youth unemployment in the formal labour market is high and improving the quality of professional formation along with the provision of adequate employment opportunities would be critical to enable youth to complete consistently and effectively the transition into adulthood and to take advantage of the opportunities to develop and use their human capital in the process. On a rather general note, the region does not suffer from a shortage of policies and programmes to address the very specific needs of children and youth, but the prominent and severe lack of systematic analysis and monitoring of the situation of children, youth and young families in the Caribbean does not allow for targeted and efficient interventions that promise successful outcomes on the long term. In an effort to assist interested governments to fill this analytical gap, various initiatives are underway to enhance data collection and their systematic analysis2. Population and household censuses are conducted every decade and a variety of household surveys, such as surveys of living conditions, labour force surveys and special surveys focusing on particular sub-groups of the population are conducted, dependent on the resources available, to a varying degree in the countries of the region. One such example is the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)-funded Multi-Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) that assess the situation of children and youth in a country. Over the past years and at present, UNICEF has launched a series of surveys in a number of countries in the Caribbean3. But more needs to be done to ensure that the data available is analyzed to provide the empirical background information for evidence-based policy formulation and monitoring of the efficiency and effectiveness of the efforts undertaken.

Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL) - Biblioteca Hernán Santa Cruz

Mirian Ramirez

Biblioteca CEPAL, Edificio Naciones Unidas, Av. Dag Hammarskjold 3477, Santiago, Chile

(+56-2) 2210-2337

Address: Av. Mariscal Antonio José de Sucre N58-63 y Fernández Salvador Edif. Olade - San Carlos, Quito - Ecuador.

Web: www.olade.org

Phone: (593 2) 259 8122 / 2598 280
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