Yemen Social Issues

Yemen Social Issues (Unemployment)



Yemen Social Issues (Unemployment)

With regard to political science, social issues refer to matters, relating to one or more members of a society directly or indirectly. Such issues may be positive or negative and include poverty, unemployment, diseases, education, civil rights and corruption. They are also described as social ills or problems and are often controversial. Unemployment is an indicator or measure of the health of the economy of a country. It is a situation where a person that is actively involved in searching for employment fails to secure work. This definition only includes those individuals who have attained the minimum working age as determined by a country’s laws.

Yemen is a country in Asia, south of Arabia. The large country has a huge population density. Despite its size and a variety of natural resources such as gas and oil, it remains to be one of the poorest countries of the world. Over the years, it has continued to experience numerous social issues; most of them related to the country’s failing economy. Most of what is known about Yemen revolves around insecurity because of al Qaeda. Because of this, focus has been shifted from the pending issues on the ground including unresolved social problems such as unemployment. All the other societal issues in Yemen are a result of the country’s economic troubles, especially the chronic unemployment. This paper looks at the causes, effects and recent events in unemployment, in Yemen. The targeted events are those that have affected the issue of unemployment in the country, in terms of providing solutions.

Although a situation that affects almost all nations of the world, the unemployment rate in Yemen is much higher. As mentioned earlier, it is one of the world’s poorest states with an estimated unemployment rate of over 40 percent. This is extremely high compared to countries such as the United States, which currently has a rate of 8.1 percent. These are statistics from a survey compiled by the Social and Economic Development research Centre. This is quite an alarming level, with the government doing very little to alleviate the problem. The most affected by this unemployment crisis are the Yemeni youth, with statistics indicating that over 60 percent of youth are jobless.

An understanding of the causes of unemployment is what will eventually lead to measures to alleviate it. There are numerous causes of unemployment in Yemen, one of them being an ever-increasing population. With a fertility rate of 5.4 children born per woman, Yemen has one off the largest population growth rates, estimated to be about 3 percent. With a large part of the population being youths, the unemployment crisis is bound to deteriorate in the coming years. It does not help that more children are being born in Yemen, causing a demographic phenomenon referred to as a “youth bulge.” This situation is a common characteristic among developing countries and is reflected in their rates of unemployment (Analysis: Yemen’s “Youth Bulge” And Unemployment – An Explosive Mix, 2010). Even with more jobs being created, there will always be a high number of persons locked out of the job market. By 2020, the country will need to have created two million jobs just to keep unemployment at a controllable level.

Educational causes also affect the unemployment crisis in Yemen. There is a defect between the Yemeni education quality and the actual requirements of the job sector. This results in a poor level of qualification among graduates, who are then deemed unfit for employment. Both local and international companies and institutions have made continuous complaints regarding the education received by students at university level in Yemen. They concur that there is a disparity in its standards, with emphasis on how it fails to prepare the students to meet the job market’s needs and requirements. Because of this, many companies resort to hiring foreign professionals, a factor that severely hinders the ability of Yemeni graduates from acquiring jobs in their own country.

Additionally, there is the aspect of experience, which is often demanded by employers. Given the initial reluctance to hire graduates, the companies are at a loss to explain where they expect the graduates to acquire experience. Soliciting for internship is also a major problem facing youthful graduates. This reluctance to hire graduates due to education is always echoed by well meaning achievers in the society. There are various reasons attributed to the poor quality of education in Yemeni universities. The most notable one has to do with the increased social demand for education due to population growth. More people are enrolling in universities, a factor contributing to the lowering quality of education.

The education policy lacks coordination with the labor force planning. The government has retracted considerably from its graduates’ recruitment policy. It no longer participates in securing job opportunities for its youth, despite the availability of unexploited productive capacities. Furthermore, it is slow in creating additional jobs in the economy to cater for its unemployed population. This, therefore, leaves a high number of idle people in the country, in itself a potential problem.

Yemen has a weak political system, which has often been plagued by issues of stability. Having such a flawed system has its effects on the state of unemployment in the country. For instance, the inability to keep the country politically stable in terms of security scares off potential investors. This is because such instability creates economic uncertainty, one that investors would rather not risk. It is discomforting that insecurity and general instability are issues that have existed since time immemorial. Yemen has been accused of harboring al Qaeda insurgents and, therefore, being party to terrorism. Both local and foreign investors are reluctant to put up base in Yemen due to potential losses. With this reluctance comes the lost opportunity for job creation. More jobs in the market would have been a guarantee of decreasing the rate of unemployment in Yemen. The government has failed to create a conducive environment for economic prosperity.

The effects of unemployment in Yemen are detrimental to its economy, social and political institutions (Jubran, 2011). The consequences of unemployment in Yemen are evident in its political instability. A feeling of frustration among the unemployed in Yemen has resulted in the rise of militant groups. The desperation and vulnerability of such unemployed persons makes them an easy target for recruitment into extremist and terrorist groups. The economic hardships which accompany unemployment have driven many Yemeni youth to rebel groups, as a way of giving purpose to their lives, which they deem miserable (Shamlan, 2012). This scenario is most rampant among university graduates who have failed to secure employment.

Socially, unemployment results in poverty. There are no wages to cater for the immediate needs of the people, with many Yemeni citizens living below the poverty level. Poverty is an indicator of a country’s poor economic development, such as in Yemen, which is among the poorest states in the world. Poverty has put a strain on most Yemeni’s resources thus their inability to acquire social amenities such as quality education. The growth of the population in Yemen is not only because of high fertility rates among its women, but also due to poverty. Women lack knowledge on reproductive health, which is why they keep having children for whom they are eventually unable to cater.

Recent times have seen various people and institutions offering their help in eradicating unemployment in Yemen. In April 2013, the World Bank initiated a project aimed at creating employment for Yemeni women and youth, including improving access to basic social services among the poor. This is by way of a grant of 25 million US dollars, which will enhance the work done by the Labor-Intensive Works program of Yemen’s Social Fund for Development (World Bank Grant Supports Employment Creation for Yemen’s Neediest Youth and Women, 2013). According to the World Bank’s social protection and labor sector manager for the Middle East, the project is designed to reach those most neglected in the Yemeni population, mainly young people and women. He further says that youth employment should be a national priority. The World Bank’s International Development Association is responsible for the project’s funding. Other than providing training to selected individuals, it will initiate programs to improve health and nutrition among impoverished Yemeni communities.

Late last year, a new initiative by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) was also launched to create new jobs for Yemeni youth. The initiative falls under the Youth Economic Empowerment Project of UNDP and is funded by the Japanese government (Ahraf, 2012). It involves training of 70 selected youth, who will be equipped to start their own business.

The above is information about Yemen’s unemployment crisis from recent years. It is evident that the crisis of unemployment in Yemen is an underlying cause of other societal ills in the country, such as insecurity. More needs to be done by the government and other institutions, both local and international, in order to alleviate the crisis. The solutions to unemployment in Yemen lie in a critical understanding and evaluation of its causes. Only then can those concerned be able to help in curbing it.


Ahraf Al-Muraqab. (2012). The UNDP executes project to reduce unemployment in Yemen. Yemen Times. Retrieved from Yemen’s “Youth Bulge” And Unemployment – An Explosive Mix. (2010). IRIN. Retrieved from Mohammed Ali. (2011). Yemen Unemployment Impacts all Sectors. Business & Economy. Retrieved from Shamlan A. (2012). The desperate reality of Yemeni youths and unemployment. National Yemen. Retrieved from

World Bank Grant Supports Employment Creation for Yemen’s Neediest Youth and Women (2013). The World Bank. Retrieved from