Africa’s youth are more educated, less employed, and less politically engaged than their elders, Afrobarometer study shows

One encouraging trend is a steady increase in young people’s contact with local leaders


ACCRA, Ghana, November 20, 2023/ — Africa’s youth are more educated than their elders but are also more likely to be unemployed, according to Afrobarometer’s ( latest Pan-Africa Profile (

The study also shows that African youth are considerably less engaged than their elders in civic and political activities that could spur change, including voting in elections. One encouraging trend is a steady increase in young people’s contact with local leaders.

Across 39 African countries surveyed in 2021/2023, unemployment is the top policy priority that 18- to 35-year-olds want their governments to address, followed by economic management. On both issues, overwhelming majorities in most countries see their government as failing. Compared to older generations, young people are less trustful of government institutions and leaders and more likely to view them as corrupt.

Even so, young Africans are just as committed as their elders to democracy and opposed to non-democratic alternatives, including military rule, as their elders. But the youth are particularly dissatisfied with the way democracy works in their countries, and in the event that elected leaders abuse their power, they are more likely than their elders to countenance military intervention.

Key findings

  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of youth (aged 18-35) have had at least some secondary school education, compared to 35% of citizens aged 56 and older (Figure 1).
    • But youth are considerably more likely than their elders to be out of work and looking for a job.
  • Unemployment tops the list of the most important problems that African youth want their government to address (cited by 37%), followed by management of the economy (30%) and health (26%) (Figure 2).
    • On average across 39 countries, only two in 10 youth (19%) say their government is performing well on job creation.
  • Like their elders, young Africans support democracy (64%) and reject such authoritarian alternatives as one-man rule (80%), one-party rule (78%), and military rule (65%) (Figure 3).
  • However, six in 10 (60%) are dissatisfied with the way democracy works in their country.
  • Youth are also more willing than their elders to tolerate a military takeover of the government if elected leaders abuse their power (56% among those aged 18-35 vs. 47% among those aged 56 and above) (Figure 4).
  • Youth are less likely than older citizens to vote in elections (63% vs. 84%), identify with a political party (37% vs. 45%), attend a community meeting (43% vs. 54%), and join others to raise an issue (39% vs. 45%) (Figure 5).
  • But while low, rates of young people’s contact with traditional leaders, local government councillors, political party officials, and members of Parliament have increased since 2014/2015.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Afrobarometer.
For more information, please contact:
Josephine Appiah-Nyamekye Sanny
Afrobarometer communications and knowledge manager
Telephone: +233240933

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