With 27.82% population representing young people, Bangladesh is currently experiencing a demographic window of opportunity. If this opportunity is to be translated into a demographic dividend, young people must participate meaningfully in the national economy. However, young people in Bangladesh face multiple vulnerabilities - including limited access to internet services, dropout from the formal education system, and marginalisation of people with disabilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the pre-existing vulnerabilities as well as created new ones. Closures of educational institutions had led to higher dropout rates, worsened mental health conditions, and created academic session jams. The global economic crisis in the context of the post-COVID recovery, as well as the Russia and Ukraine war, might have a significant adverse impact on the employment of young people as well as on their financial securities, leading to the emergence of a new vulnerable population group known as the ‘new poor’. This set of phenomena eventually fuelled higher rates of inequality and marginalisation, manifested through increased rate of child marriage, suicide, gender-based violence and juvenile offenses.
The entirety of the challenges being discussed disproportionately affects young people specially who are female, marginalised, residing in remote climate vulnerable areas, or come from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Therefore, reaping the benefits of the demographic dividend might require identifying possible causes of vulnerability of young people and ensuring necessary policy and resource allocation to address them.
In this context, this study highlights five major dimensions of the vulnerability of the young people in Bangladesh, focusing on the areas of education, digital service, employment, health, and social deviance, which might help identify the more vulnerable groups. Moreover, it also tries stocktaking of the key government policies to identify the vulnerability of young people and identify ways for necessary resource allocation in the budget to implement the government policies for young people.