Heterogeneity among Young People Neither in Employment Nor in Education in Brazil

Published date01 March 2020
Date01 March 2020
208 ANNALS, AAPSS, 688, March 2020
DOI: 10.1177/0002716220913234
among Young
People Neither
in Employment
Nor in
Education in
913234ANN THE ANNALS OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMYHeterogeneity amount NEET Young People in Brazil
We examined the diverse composition of young people
aged 15–29 in Brazil who are not in education, employ-
ment, or training (NEET). The analysis shows the
Brazilian NEET population’s main characteristics by
analyzing data from the 2014 National Household
Sample Survey. The findings confirm significant socio-
economic heterogeneity in group composition, which
allows identification of subgroups with different levels
of social vulnerability. A considerable proportion of
these young people are in this status due to structural
issues and social inequality, and for another significant
portion of cases, NEET status is not a problem in itself.
Therefore, especially in Latin America where demo-
graphic transitions have resulted in large economically
active populations, investigations of youth inactivity and
risk of social exclusion among this group are warranted.
Keywords: youth; NEET; education; labor; family;
inequalities; multiple correspondence
Young people are important agents of social
and economic transformation, and the
social benefits that may accrue to a country
with favorable demographics (rising propor-
tions of the population in the working ages)
would be jeopardized if youth are neglected.
Vieira (2009) argues that the challenges and
limits of a demographic dividend, whether or
not it is being availed, depend on how our ado-
lescents and young people transition into
adulthood and under what circumstances. Pais
(2005) also warns that in countries with an
Tamille Dias is a policy analyst at the Ministry of
Economy in Brazil. She holds an MSc in Social Policy
and Social Research from University College London
and an MSc in Development Studies from the University
of Brasilia.
Ana Maria Nogales Vasconcelos is a professor at the
University of Brasilia. She is a former vice-president of
the Brazilian Population Association and director of
Social Policy Studies at the Federal District Government.
Correspondence: tamille.dias@gmail.com
aging population, it is necessary to make young people more active in the work-
force to sustain the integrity of social protection systems. Therefore, especially
in Latin America where demographic transitions have resulted in large youth
populations, investigations of youth inactivity and risk of social exclusion among
youth are warranted.
Young people in NEET—not in education, employment, or training—have
often been associated with situations of social risk. From an economic per-
spective, education constitutes one of a society’s greatest foundations for
development; when a large proportion of people at the critical age of transi-
tioning into the labor market do not make this transition and do not attend
school, there will almost certainly be future developmental losses in that
society (Menezes Filho, Cabanas, and Komatsu 2013). From a broader social
point of view, those in NEET may find themselves in vulnerable conditions
and incapable of accessing opportunity structures (Camarano and Kanso
Failure among youth to develop in ways that enable them to adjust to
adult roles is a social concern (Abramo 1997). Being NEET has been pre-
sented as a status of failure, dysfunction, or anomie in the process of social
integration. From this perspective, being in NEET is fundamentally a social
problem, because these people are excluded from the institutions in which
society expects them to participate. Yet these institutions (school and work)
remain responsible for providing capacities and resources to young people
to enter into adult life and the means to achieve autonomy and
Youth is a period of transition and social integration. The acquisition of skills
and credentials through the education system, the beginning of a professional
career, the formation of a new family, the search for an identity, and social recog-
nition as an adult member of society are some of the transitions that define this
stage of life. These trajectories will be affected by the periods of exclusion, and
we explore those dynamics in this article.
This article focuses on young people ranging from 15 to 29 years old in Brazil
(according to Youth Statute, Federal Law 12852/2013) who do not work or search
for work; that is, they are inactive and are not enrolled in an educational institu-
tion. The purpose of our investigation is to identify socioeconomic heterogeneity
in the NEET category, arguing that there are subgroups inside the category that
represent different social conditions, both in their determinants and in the con-
sequences of absences from the labor market and school. The article is divided
into two parts: an extensive literature review on the determinants of NEET, relat-
ing the status to structural class, race, and gender issues; and a second part in
which NEET heterogeneity in Brazil is illustrated by exploratory statistics. It is
necessary to consider socioeconomic differences among young people labeled as
NEET to highlight the diversity and heterogeneity of social phenomena that
occur under this label.
There are around seven million young NEETs in Brazil (IBGE 2014). The
country faces high disparities in income distribution and considerable social
inequality. This context provided the rationale for our research: are all NEET
youths in Brazil in a condition of social and economic vulnerability? The

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