Literature study – youth employment in developing countries

For years, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been supporting large programmes that specifically target youth unemployment and underemployment in developing countries. The evidence on the effectiveness of such programmes, however, has always been rather limited. It generally remained unclear how and why certain activities helped youth in finding decent employment. IOB conducts a systematic review on what works  to address youth unemployment in developing countries, focusing on the Middle East, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Over the years, the number of high-quality studies and impact evaluations of youth employment programmes has gradually increased. In 2017, Kluve et al (2017) published an important systematic review, synthesizing the findings of 107 programmes aimed at improving labour market outcomes for youth in 31 countries. This study included primary studies published up to January 2015.

Since 2015, the number of high quality studies and impact evaluations on this subject has increased further. Therefore, in December 2020, IOB and the ILO joined forces to conduct an update of the aforementioned systematic review of youth employment programmes, with a focus on the Middle East, Northern Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. The assignment also envisages an update of the 3iE evidence gap map on this theme, using evaluations and articles that were published after 2015.

The aim of this systematic review update is to investigate the impact of youth employment interventions on the labour market outcomes of young people. The research will take place in 2021 and the first results will be available in July 2021.

Central research question

What is the impact of youth employment interventions on the labour market outcomes in developing countries?



  1. Ready: Exploration
  2. Ready: Terms of Reference adopted
  3. In process: Research in progress
  4. Report adopted