Disengaged Youth in Bangladesh
Concepts, Causes and Consequences

The current demographic window of opportunity in Bangladesh emphasises youth to be one of the drivers of the country’s development strategy. Regrettably, not all youth in the country are equally “engaged” in the development process in general and in the labour market in particular. The present paper, acknowledging heterogeneity of the youth community, explores the concept and manifestation of ‘disengaged youth’ in Bangladesh. Being informed by the relevant literature, the present study categorises youth “disengagement” under four heads, viz. economic, social, cultural and political. Among the four mentioned categories, the paper essentially focuses on the “economic disengagement” of youth as the primary form of youth disengagement. The paper maintains that youth “not in education, employment or training (NEET)” can be a useful approach to explain disengagement of youth in the context of Bangladesh. The study highlights the determinants of youth disengagement in terms of NEET, including skills mismatch, locational adversity, digital divide, traditional patriarchal norms, and lack of legal rights and discriminatory practices. The manifestations of youth engagements, as the study identifies, include criminality, radicalisation, mental stress and intimate partner violence. The study takes note of a number of programmatic experiences in different countries dealing with “disengaged” youth. The paper underscores the need to address the causes and not the “manifestations” of the disengaged youth through these programmatic and policy interventions.

Authors: Debapriya Bhattacharya, Towfqul Islam Khan and Fabiha Anbar Huq
Publication Period: November 2021

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