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Growing into work

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This paper examines youth labor markets in OECD countries in the 1980s and 1990s, when the youth share of the population fell rapidly in most of these countries. Despite the decline in the youth share of the population and increased enrollments in school, and shifts in industry mix toward youth-intensive sectors, the wages of youth relative to adults fell, and the employment rates of youths declined sharply, particularly among men. In many countries, youth suicides rose, crime (committed largely by the young) rose and marriage rates fell among young persons. The paper concludes that the most likely cause for the adverse labor market experiences of youths is the high overall rate of unemployment. Neither changes in demography nor expansion of low wage industries nor reductions in the wages of youth were able to counteract the effects of macro-economy on the prospects of young workers.

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