The labor force of a society is the number of people who are legally at the working age. This figure also takes into consideration the total unemployment numbers of each country. Full-time employment means that everyone who is looking for work has the “fair wages” of working hours they need.

Because people change jobs, full-time employment means that the stable unemployment rate is about 1 to 2 percent of the total workforce. In macroeconomics, full-time employment is sometimes defined as a level of unemployment where there is no periodic unemployment.

Unemployment of 30% of Iran’s young population

But these concepts are transformed when it comes to the Velayat-e Faqih (mullahs’) regime, both in theory and in action. An International Labor Organization (ILO) survey shows that out of about 10.5 million young people aged 15 to 24 in Iran, 30% are neither studying, nor training, nor working anywhere.

With Iran’s entry into the 1990s, population planning of the country, regardless of age structure, changes and consequences through control policies partially prevented population dynamics.

In the context of these changes, a phase of demographic change has begun in Iran called the “demographic window”.

The demographic window is a temporary condition in the population structure of Iran that opened in 1980 and has lasted for about four decades. During this period, the proportion of the population at the working-age reaches its maximum and the age dependency ratios decrease.

Of course, this situation does not act automatically and spontaneously; it requires the operation of appropriate economic, social, political and institutional contexts. Under such conditions, youth unemployment in Iran has taken second place.

What is NEET?

One of the main indicators that show the inability to effectively utilize the demographic window is an indicator called NEET.

NEET is an acronym that stands for “Not in Education, Employment, or Training”. It refers to a person who is unemployed, not in school or vocational training. The classification of a person as NEET was first used in the United Kingdom, but its use has spread to other countries and regions.

This indicator reflects the situation of young people between 15 and 24 who are neither studying, nor training, nor are they working anywhere. According to various studies in countries around the world, these young people are more prone to delinquency, drug addiction and criminal activity. Accordingly, policymakers and planners around the world are focusing more on providing the population with employment and training opportunities.

The rate of NEET in developed countries is about 2 to 10%, while in Iran during 2018 this number reached 30 percent [a population equal to 3.1 million young people aged 15 to 24 years]. Golestan, Hormozgan, Kermanshah, Lorestan, West Azerbaijan, Khuzestan, Kurdistan, Hamedan, Bushehr and Khorasan Razavi provinces have the highest NEET rates in Iran.

Iran has the highest NEET after undeveloped countries

The International Labor Organization (ILO) survey shows that the highest youth NEET rates worldwide are in Trinidad and Tobago in South America, followed by Zimbabwe, Yemen, and Zambia. Iran is number 27 on the list.

According to data from Iran’s Ministry of Labor and the ILO, 29.7 percent of young people aged 15 to 24 years in Iran are classified as NEETs or young people who are neither working, nor training, nor studying. This means that youth unemployment in Iran is ranked second.

Compare NEET rates in other countries

The rate of NEETs in Iran is nearly 30 percent, while during 2018 in other counties it is:

In Qatar, about 2 percent.

In Japan, about 3 percent.

In the Netherlands about 4 percent.

In Norway and Luxembourg about 5 percent.

In Sweden, Germany, and Switzerland about 6 percent.

In Denmark and Austria about 7 percent.

In Finland, Belgium and Australia it was about 9 percent.

The NEET rate in nine of Iran’s provinces is above 40 percent.

The rank of provinces in terms of NEET

In addition to the high rank of Iran’s NEET index under the dominance of the regime, some provinces within the country are in a very poor position.

According to the census data of 2016 [latest provinces statistics]:

Sistan-Baluchistan Province, with a NEET rate of about 48.2 percent, ranks first in the country.

Golestan is ranked second with 44 percent.

Hormozgan ranks third with a rate of 43.8 percent.

Kermanshah is ranked fourth, with a 42.8 percent rate.

Lorestan ranked fifth with 42.1 percent.

West Azerbaijan is in 6th place with a rate of 41.7 percent.

Khuzestan ranks seventh with 41.2 percent.

Kurdistan is eighth with 41 percent.

Hamadan ranks ninth with a rate of 40.1 percent.

And Ardebil is in 10th place with a rate of 39.6 percent.

North Khorasan, Chaharmahal Bakhtiari, Zanjan, Bushehr and Khorasan Razavi are other provinces with high NEET rates.

Since the NEET index is extracted from the list of the unemployed population, if the NEET rate is given at the micro-level namely the cities located in each province, the NEET rate in the cities would definitely be higher.

Many people on the NEETs list today, prior to joining the NEETs due to personal and family characteristics, as a result of wrong policies such as lack of job opportunities, mismatches of the education with the labor market, the anti-reproductive structure of the economic system and inefficient education, are on the list.

A factor in increasing the population of NEETs
Globally three components:
1. The transition from education to work
2. Social exclusion
3. Political economy is one of the main drivers of the NEET process

The lack of NEETs in the Economic Literature of the regime

For the past two decades, many developed countries have developed specific welfare policies for NEETs, a concept that has not received much attention in the social and economic policies of Iran’s regime.

In the research results, for example, only two research articles have directly addressed the topic of NEETs, one of which has used the inappropriate term “stray youth” rather than the international term NEET. The Ministry of Labor has also been publishing raw, general statistics for years, but this has not been much discussed in policy-making of the regime.

This led to the formation of an ‘army of the starving’ and a lower class of society, which took to the streets and protested against the regime in November 2019.