ILO Research paper No. 8

Understanding the drivers of the youth labour market in Kenya

This paper examines the macroeconomic and individual elements affecting youth unemployment and inactivity in Kenya with a view to discussing the elements that are important for the youth labour market challenges.

This paper identifies the macro and microeconomic determinants of youth unemployment and inactivity rates. It finds that although the size of the youth cohort does have significant implications for the status of youth in the labour market, aggregate labour market conditions have a greater influence. The paper also finds a large gap between the youth and the overall employment elasticities in the country. This implies that although fostering economic growth and ensuring economic sustainability are important, they are not sufficient to address youth challenges. Efforts will need to be focused on improving the youth employment content of growth. The results from the microeconometric analysis show that boosting tertiary school attendance and providing targeted vocational training to young people (particularly women) would be the most effective measures for improving youth employability in the country.