Regional disparities in youth unemployment

The long-term development of societies, politically and economically, depends to a great extent on the knowledge, skills, values and competences acquired by people at an early age. Educational and working opportunities for the young people are also fundamental to enhance social cohesion, by discouraging people from engaging in illegal activities, reducing political and social conflict, and increasing trust in others and in institutions.

In the lagging regions of seven OECD countries and three non-OECD countries, youth unemployment has decreased since 2008. Among the OECD countries, Germany, Chile, France and Israel experienced the largest decreases in youth unemployment over the period 2008-14 (Figure 4.12).

Important regional disparities in youth unemployment still remain within OECD countries; Italy, Greece, Turkey and Spain present the largest subnational gaps in this indicator, 47, 43, 27 and 24 percentage point regional differences, respectively (Figure 4.13).

Another important indicator that depicts a lack of opportunities for the youth in a broader sense is the rate of young people neither in employment nor in education and training (NEET). This indicator is particularly important since it not only reveals, to a certain extent, the current exclusion of the youth in the productive side of the economy, but also the fact that they are not acquiring the skills and competences necessary for both their long-term individual well-being and the long-term development of their country. Strikingly, the regions of Southeastern Anatolia-East (Turkey), Central Greece and Sicily (Italy) have a NEET rate of 52.3%, 43.4% and 42.1% respectively; on the other hand, the regions of Tel Aviv District (Israel), Hokuriku (Japan), Western Norway and Southwest Overijssel (Netherlands) have NEET rates below the 5% (Figure 4.14).


The youth unemployment rate is defined as the ratio between unemployed persons aged between 15 and 24 and the labour force in the same age class (expressed as a percentage).

The indicator rate of young people neither in employment nor in education and training (NEET) corresponds to the percentage of the population aged 18-24 that is neither employed nor involved in further education or training with respect to the population of the same age class. Regional comparable values are available only for Europe.

Lagging regions are here defined as the regions with the highest unemployment rate and that concentrate 20% of the country’s youth (15-24 years old) population.


OECD (2015), OECD Regional Statistics (database),

See Annex B for data sources and country-related metadata.

Reference years and territorial level

Youth unemployment and NEET: 2014 or latest available; TL2 except for New Zealand for which data is available only for the regions of North Island and South Island.

Further information

OECD (2015), How's Life? 2015: Measuring Well-being, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Figure notes

 4.12- 4.13: Korea is not included. Reference years: Greece, Slovak Republic and Switzerland 2009; Chile, France and Mexico 2010; Portugal 2012. Latest available years: Iceland 2011; New Zealand 2012; and Brazil and Israel 2013.

 4.12: The change from the reference year to the latest year available corresponds to the change in percentage points of the average youth unemployment of the regions with the highest unemployment rate and with the 20% of the country’s youth (15-24 years old) population. The regions of Burgenland, Carinthia, Salzburg, Vorarlberg (Austria); Åland (Finland); Corsica (France); Zeeland (New Zealand); and Bremen and Saarland (Germany) are not included.

 4.14: Australia, Canada, Chile, Israel, Korea and Mexico are not included. Latest available years: Brazil, Israel and South Africa 2013.

Information on data for Israel:

4.12. Change in the youth unemployment rate between 2008 and 2014, country average and lagging regions, (percentage points) (TL2)

4.13. Regional variation in youth unemployment rate, 2014 (TL2)

4.14. Regional variation in the rate of young people NEET, 2014 (TL2)