Youth inactivity

Young people who are neither in employment nor in education or training (the “NEET” population) are at risk of becoming socially excluded – individuals with income below the poverty-line and lacking the skills to improve their economic situation.


The share refers to young people who are neither in education or training nor in employment, as a percentage of the total number of young people in the corresponding age group. Young people in education include those attending part-time as well as full-time education, but exclude those in non-formal education and in educational activities of very short duration. Employment is defined according to the ILO Guidelines and covers all those who have been in paid work for at least one hour in the reference week of the survey or were temporarily absent from such work.


The length and the quality of the schooling individuals receive have an impact on students’ transition from education to work; so do labour-market conditions, the economic environment and demographics. National traditions also play an important role. For example, in some countries, young people traditionally complete schooling before they look for work; in others, education and employment are concurrent. In some countries, there is little difference between how young women and men experience their transitions from school to work, while in other countries, significant proportions of young women raise families full-time after leaving the education system and do not enter employment. The ageing of the population in OECD countries should favour employment among young adults, as, theoretically, when older people leave the labour market, their jobs are made available to the young. However, during recessionary periods, high general unemployment rates make the transition from school to work substantially more difficult for young people, as those with more work experience are favoured over new entrants into the labour market. In addition, when labour-market conditions are unfavourable, younger people often tend to stay in education longer, because high unemployment rates drive down the opportunity costs of education.

Please note that data for Chile for 2010 refer to 2009 and data for Brazil, Chile and Korea for 2014 refer to 2013. In Israel, the proportion of NEETs in 2014 is not comparable with data from 2010 and previous years.


On average across OECD countries, 17.9% of the 20-24 year-olds and 7.2% of the 15-19 year-olds were neither in school nor at work in 2014. For OECD countries as a whole, the proportion of the 20-24 year-olds who were not in education but employed fell from 48.2% to 36.2% between 2000 and 2014, while the percentage of individuals in education increased steadily. The proportion of 20-24 year-olds who were neither in employment nor in education or training (NEET) remained stable at around 17-19% between 2000 and 2014.

In 2014, Greece, Italy and Turkey were the only countries where more than 30% of 20-24 year-olds were NEET. Turkey has the highest proportion of NEET, but it is also the only country among these three to show a decrease in the percentage of NEET between 2005 and 2014, from 49.7% in 2005 to 36.3% in 2014. Germany’s share of 20-24 year-old NEET (18.7%) was above the OECD average (17.4%) in 2005, but by 2014, that share fell back to 10.1%, well below the OECD average of 17.9%. In fact, the proportion of 20-24 year-old NEET in Germany is now one of the smallest among OECD countries along with those in Iceland (9.4%), Luxembourg (9.0%), the Netherlands (10.4%) and Norway (10.0%).

Women are more often neither in employment nor in education or training than men. Among 20-24 year olds, 19.4% of women and 16.4% of men were NEET in 2014, on average across OECD countries. In Mexico and Turkey, the gender difference in the shares of 20-24 year-olds who were NEET was around 30 percentage points.


Further information

Analytical publications

Statistical publications

Online databases


Table. Youth who are not in education nor in employment

Youth aged between 20 and 24 who are not in education nor in employment
As a percentage of persons in that age group, 2014