International Development Planning Review

Should I stay or should I go? Rural youth employment in Uganda and Zambia

International Development Planning Review (2013), 35, (2), 175–201.

Abstract

This paper discusses the employment strategies of young people in selected rural areas of Zambia and Uganda, with a focus on the opportunities and constraints that they face. It investigates mobility patterns to determine what motivates some youth to stay, while others choose to migrate to urban areas. Quantitative and qualitative data are drawn on to analyse the role of exogenous and endogenous support for young entrepreneurs. The findings indicate that agriculture plays a major role as a source of livelihood for rural youth and, in combination with other economic activities, provides a more resilient livelihood than a single enterprise strategy. The importance of an enabling environment, personal skills and favourable market conditions are also highlighted. The question of whether young people remain in or leave rural areas is shown to vary between the Ugandan and Zambian contexts. In Uganda, a significant proportion of the youth, especially young men, migrate to urban areas, whereas in Zambia, almost all the young people have chosen to remain in the rural area, where they consider their prospects of success to be greater than if they were to migrate elsewhere.

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Author details

Kristensen, Søren

Birch-Thomsen, Torben