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Striving for job security: The lived experience of employment informality among educated youth in Egypt

Ghada Barsoum (Department of Public Policy and Administration, American University in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 8 June 2015

Issue publication date: 8 June 2015




The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, it seeks to voice the concerns of educated youth in Egypt as they describe their work options and preferences. Second, it seeks to highlight the gravity of the policy gap in addressing work informality, drawing on some of the international experience in this field.


Qualitative research in the form of in-depth interviews, desk-review of policies, and descriptive statistical analysis of a recent national survey of labour in Egypt.


A large proportion of educated youth work within the realm of informality and there is a clear policy gap in addressing this issue. Contrary to what would be expected, young people value access to social security and work stability. They face systemic hurdles related to access to such benefits. Because of the legacy of guaranteed government hiring of the educated in Egypt, young people express a great appreciation of work in the government, for virtually being the only employer offering job stability and social security in the labour market.

Research limitations/implications

This paper addresses a gap in the literature on youth employment in Egypt, where there is a dearth of research focusing on the lived experience of employment precariousness. The majority of studies in this field relies on statistics with little qualitative research voicing the views of this group.

Practical implications

Reforms are more urgent than timely to extend social security and other measures of social protection to workers within the informal economy.


The paper builds on primary data and provides insights about the way educated youth perceive their working conditions and options. The paper also provides a discussion of the social security system in Egypt, its coverage, and possible reform approaches.



Barsoum, G. (2015), "Striving for job security: The lived experience of employment informality among educated youth in Egypt", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 35 No. 5/6, pp. 340-358.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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