How do young rural Africans engage in the rural economy? How important is farming relative to non-farm activities and the income of young rural Africans? What social, spatial and policy factors explain different patterns of engagement? These questions are at the heart of an interdisciplinary research project, funded by IFAD, that seeks to provide a stronger evidence base for policy and for the growing number of programs in Africa that want to “invest in youth.”
One component of the Challenges and Opportunities for Rural Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa project, led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), exploits data from the Living Standard Measurement Study - Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA) to develop a more detailed picture of young people’s economic activities. These household survey data cover eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, are taken at regular intervals, and in most cases follow the same households and individuals through time. While the LSMS-ISA are not specialized youth surveys and therefore may not cover all facets of youth livelihoods and wellbeing in detail, they provide valuable knowledge about the evolving patterns of social and economic characteristics of rural African youth and their households.