A gender story of social disengagement of young adults in Latin America

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January 2022
Paper author(s): 
Chia Liu
Andrés F. Castro Torres
Ewa Batyra
Gender Economics

In the recent years, Latin America has seen a large number of young adults who are neither engaged in formal education nor work, commonly dubbed as “nini” (“ni” trabajan “ni” estudian). This study tests the role household structure plays on becoming a nini in 12 Latin American countries. We explore the gender dynamic of human capital stagnation and intergenerational mobility by focusing on early family formation for women and men aged 20- 25 using censuses from the Integrated Public-Use Microdata Series (IPUMS-I). Countryspecific linear regression models reveal that the intersection of class and gender is a major determinant of labor force and educational disengagement in the region. Women from lower social origin who leave parental home to enter union and parenthood at younger ages are particularly disadvantaged. Moreover, among those who are active in the labor market, young mothers are less likely to experience upward intergenerational mobility in occupation compared to those who delay childbearing. This work highlights the importance of addressing economic and educational disengagement of early adulthood to foster economic growth and development in the region.


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