Survey of Young People in Egypt

For more than two decades, Council researchers have conducted large-scale surveys among young people in Egypt to understand their circumstances and outlook.

The Issue

Young people are powerful catalysts for social and economic development and change. In Egypt, approximately 61% of the population is under the age of 30, and 40% is between the ages of 10 and 29. These young people are making the transition from childhood to the roles and responsibilities of adulthood—as workers, citizens, spouses, and parents—in the wake of two revolutions since 2011.

Under the right circumstances, this “youth bulge” could propel the country economically. But without the right investments in young people’s health and education, as well as opportunities for productive livelihoods, their future prospects—and possibly the future of Egypt—will be limited. To develop policies and programs that meet their needs, the Egyptian government and program managers require solid, reliable data about the challenges young people face.

The Progress

The Population Council has been generating evidence about the lives of young people in Egypt since 1997, when Council researchers fielded the groundbreaking Adolescence and Social Change in Egypt survey, interviewing more than 9,000 young people.

In 2009, the Population Council built on that foundation with the Survey of Young People in Egypt (SYPE). Researchers spoke with a nationally representative sample of about 15,000 young people between the age of 10 and 29 from 11,000 households, one of the largest surveys of young people in the Middle East and North Africa. The survey revealed regional and gender-specific disparities in schooling, high rates of youth unemployment, and persistent gender inequities.

In 2014, the second round of SYPE took place in the wake of major transitions in Egypt, notably two revolutions—in January 2011 and June 2013. Council researchers re-interviewed more than 10,000 respondents, 73% of those same young people interviewed for the 2009 survey, a group now aged 13–35.

The new data offer a unique before-and-after picture of the economic, social, political, and health situation of young people during this critical time in Egypt’s history, as well as nuanced details about their struggle for employment, their concerns about Egypt’s economic situation, and their resilient optimism for the future.

For example, the 2014 survey finds that compared to before the revolutions, Egyptian young people today are:

  • much more likely to vote;
  • more likely to use the internet and other media;
  • less likely to work for the government or in the private wage sector;
  • less likely to aspire to migrate outside of Egypt; and
  • more likely to prefer larger family size and less likely to use contraception

The Impact

Results from SYPE 2009 were used to inform government policies for young people as well as two of the Council’s own pioneering programs to empower girls and young women in rural Upper Egypt: Ishraq and Neqdar Nesharek.

SYPE 2014 has updated the state of knowledge on young people in Egypt and identified issues of importance to youth in the country’s new political environment. Results from the survey have been disseminated to government ministers, representatives from international donor organizations, and other thought leaders on Egyptian youth and society and will be used to develop programs and policies that encourage investment in this crucial population.

Building off of SYPE 2009 and 2014, SYPE 2016 expanded the knowledge base of characteristics and pressing issues of young people, specifically in informal urban areas of Greater Cairo. The surveys have been widely used by Egyptian policy makers as well as local and international donors in designing programs and interventions for young people in Egypt.

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