n Commonwealth Youth and Development - Demographic tragedy or opportunity : are micro-issues necessitating a new social contract with the youth in South Africa?

Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1727-7140



South Africa is at a crossroads. How it responds to the need for the social and economic inclusion of its large youth population will determine whether the outcome is tragic or opens up opportunities for the youth and the country at large. It is argued that the youth bulge / surge in the number of South African youths and the life disruptions they face are placing severe strain on their current social contract with government, perhaps with the potential to ignite large-scale civil conflict. The contract, encapsulated in youth policy and programmes, is rights-based. In this article, stressors relating to the current social contract are identified. The interaction between and the unintended consequences of the various demographic, societal and policy stressors are discussed. Finally, policy and practical issues that should be urgently revisited to create new prospects for the youth and ensure that the country benefits from the demographic dividend are identified. Directions are suggested for a reconsidered social contract that may ensure greater compatibility between societal expectations and outcomes.

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