Nothing to do

1.8 million young people have nothing to do.

I read that in an op-ed by Julio Borges, and it sparks my curiosity. It comes from a survey carried out by the UCAB Youth Project that says 23% of Venezuelans between the ages of 15 and 29 neither study nor work, or in the words of Borges, “are not occupied.”

I go to the primary source, and sure enough, the number is what it is. But dig deeper and another drama surfaces: a large chunk of these (particularly in the 15-19 cohort) are young mothers, women who are taking care of their children.

No hacen nada

True, roughly 10% of these kids don’t think it’s worth continuing their studies. Many are dropouts from some sort of school, and surely some of them are criminals. But it’s not like 1.8 million kids “are not occupied.” Surely, a man with quadruplets knows that taking care of kids does not mean you are “not occupied.”

I don’t want to minimize the drama our youth is facing. Many want to work, but cannot find meaningful work. Many more are caught in the trap of not being able to continue their studies, and not having any marketable skills for the work force.

But surely some of them are doing something, even if it means taking care of their kids, or someone else’s. This graph shows that, while 54% are indeed not doing anything, others are actively looking to get out of their situation.


In fact, some of the kids not doing anything are actually rich kids.


It’s important to get these things right – otherwise, we come across as manipulators of demographic data, or careless with figures at best. Because when you read that 1.8 million young kids “are not occupied,” your first thought is probably that of 1,8 million malandros coming to get you.

We’re in bad shape, but not quite that bad.

25 thoughts on “Nothing to do

  1. I guess JB is right from the economic/national accounts/labor market’s point of view.” Occupied” in this context has a strict economic interpretation.

    As for the taking care of kids argument, convention here dictates that domestic tasks performed by household members are certainly an accupation, but not one that is contained within the national accounts. Domestic work provided it’s not an economic work, thus is not included in the GDP accounts.


  2. So, why is it, I can’t find a decent “technico” or a “señora de limpieza” that will actually put in a solid day’s work?


  3. That Juan and others don’t go deeper into the problem of the huge amount of girls getting pregnant in Venezuela is very telling.

    When are you going to talk publicly about the need to develop a national policy of BIRTH CONTROL and parental responsibility that tackles this issue?

    Here Venezuelan conservatives and chavistas go hand in hand.

    But this still remains:
    * Venezuela has one of the highest proportion of underage mothers in the American continent.
    * Venezuela has the highest proportion of girls UNDER 14 who get pregnant.

    Telling them “que la guarden hasta que se unan en santo matrimonio” is not the solution.
    Pretending the problem is not there isn’t one either.

    No, not all of them are malandros. Did you expect 90%? Still: we are doing pretty bad.


    • Second Keplers concerns at what the data reveals about the high number of young unwed mothers and its ultimate consequences on the frayed social fabric of the poor and on the mangled lives of so many unwanted or neglected children.

      The problem is not just that they dont have enough access to birth control but that often they dont want to use that control , they want to have the kids because of thats how they think they can tie a man to them and as an emblem of being grown up. ( informed to me by someone close who worked in the barrios) .

      In the US the most succesful birth control programs for avoiding neglected children is to offer it not to first time mothers but to mothers who already have a child and dont want to have more , also if the birth control is of the kind thats implanted and operates for years .


    • Wow. If we are taking about pregnancies under age 14, is the issue birth control, or something else? In any event, food for thought Kepler.


      • Sorry, it’ more than that.
        Venezuela is second after Colombia on pregnancies under 19.
        Venezuela is first on pregnancies under 15.
        Sources: WHO. I plotted the stats for Spanish America + Brazil on my blog some time ago. So: indeed it is more than birth education. It’s sex education,
        it’s societal education and it is, I suspect, a lot of law enforcement. I believe a lot of those pregnancies might be caused by adults, thus a felony of the worst sort.


        • In the developed world teen pregnancies are undesired accidents which could have been prevented through sex education and greater access to birth control , young girls dont want to get pregnant . However from studies and observations done in latin america , there are many teen pregancies which accidental or not , are not unwanted , Where the girl feels that having a child transforms her into a grown up or that the child is a trophy that advertises her womanhood or that its the best way or retaining the attention of a desirable Macho. Women turn cold on pregnancies after theyve had a child or two , and its then when it is most practical to offer the young lady a way of avoiding pregnancies by giving her cheap easily acalable access to birth control devices . The problem is also rife in the US ghetoes and the consequences very similar to those that teen pregancies have in Latin America.


          • “The problem is also rife in the US ghetoes and the consequences very similar to those that teen pregancies have in Latin America.”

            Yes, I experienced this when i spent a little time in a mentoring program here in DC. In many cases, teen girls wanted to get pregnant, sometimes even when they had no expectation that their current lover would be around or supportive. A problem deeply rooted in poverty, ignorance, warped social norms, dependency, and a lack of opportunity (real or perceived).


    • It’s not only birth control, it’s proper sex ed that needs to reach those kids.
      In my school, sex ed was only grudgingly taught in the 8th grade. Looking back on it, it ticks me off that it was only during that year that we received any info on the subject.
      A high school girlfriend of mine from an all-girls Catholic school was even more uninformed on the whole thing. She was only aware of the importance of condoms, and the nuns there insisted on pushing that “sex is sinful” horseshit and nothing else.
      I get where the conservatism comes from, but it’s just irresponsible to not give that information to kids, whether they will or won’t have sex before they marry.


      • If there is one thing chavistas have gotten right it is that we are going to have to learn to share a little better. In the meantime, give em hell.


  4. “But it’s not like 1.8 million kids “are not occupied.” Surely, a man with quadruplets knows that taking care of kids does not mean you are “not occupied.””

    So let’s pretend that 50% of the sample is female, and take out the 8% that says they are taking care of their children. That leaves you with 1,728 million kids who are not occupied. Lily gliding yes?


Comments are closed.