Youth employment to reduce violence in Central America
According to 2014 statistics, four out of the 10 countries with the highest homicide rates in the world are in Central America. The vast majority of victims of violence are young men between the ages of 15 and 24, some of whom also risk becoming perpetrators of violence. Access to jobs, in both formal and informal labour markets, is seen as key to facilitating social integration of marginal youth and insulating them from criminal activities. Several youth employment programs have been implemented in the region; however, there is little evidence to show how these initiatives have worked, or to explain the underlying factors that have limited achievements. Also missing are evidence-based recommendations to increase the impact of these programs and scale up successful cases. The Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO), supported by Canada's International Development Research Centre, will study the relationship between violence and unemployment among young people in urban communities in two Central American countries - Costa Rica and El Salvador. The aim is to produce actionable research findings to influence the development of effective programs for vulnerable youth that reduce their risk of falling into violent lifestyles. By combining quantitative and qualitative approaches, mapping out initiatives and outcomes, and focusing both on beneficiaries of employment programs for vulnerable youth and policymakers in charge of program design and implementation, the project aims to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of these interventions.