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Study: A profile of youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) in Canada, 2015 to 2017

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Released: 2019-11-01

Youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) are more likely to report poor or fair physical and mental health than their non-NEET counterparts of the same gender, age and educational attainment. These are among the findings of a new study released today that provides a profile of the psychosocial well-being of youth NEET (aged 18 to 29) compared with youth non-NEET. Overall, 11.1% of youth in Canada were NEET from 2015 to 2017, which included those who were looking for paid work (38.0% of all youth NEET), those who were caring for children (27.5%), and those in the "other" category (34.5%)—a group that included those whose main activity was household work, volunteering, or care-giving to people other than children, as well as those who had a long-term illness. The reduction of the youth NEET rate has been established as a positive goal because youth NEET are at risk for multiple long-term social, economic, and health difficulties.

The study, based on data from the Canadian Community Health Survey from 2015 to 2017, found that youth NEET were three times more likely to report poor or fair general physical health than youth non-NEET (15.1% vs 5.1%), and almost twice as likely to report poor or fair mental health (13.8% vs 7.8%). Youth NEET were also more than twice as likely to report mood disorders (16.8% vs 7.5%), almost twice as likely to report anxiety disorders (20.1% vs 10.5%), and less likely to be very satisfied with their lives (33.2% vs 39.7%) compared with youth non-NEET. These results largely remained after differences in gender, age and educational attainment were taken into account. Notably, the psychosocial characteristics were considerably less favourable among youth NEET looking for paid work than among youth non-NEET.

Youth NEET and non-NEET also had very different sociodemographic and economic characteristics. For example, while females comprised the same proportion of youth NEET and non-NEET overall, this was not the case for any specific group of youth NEET. Among youth NEET, 69.9% of those looking for paid work and 60.4% of those in the "other" category were male, compared to 50.6% of youth non-NEET. In contrast, 92.0% of youth NEET caring for children were female, compared to 49.4% of youth non-NEET.

The study also found that, compared with youth non-NEET, youth NEET were almost three times more likely to not have a high school diploma (20.6% vs 6.2%), less likely to have completed a postsecondary credential (38.9% vs 53.1%), almost twice as likely to live in a household in the bottom 20% of the income distribution (40.9% vs 22.5%), somewhat more likely to be in the 25-to-29 age group (50.8% vs 42.8%), and more likely to be married or in a common-law relationship (36.7% vs 26.0%).

Sustainable Development Goals

On January 1, 2016, the world officially began implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—the United Nations' transformative plan of action to address urgent global challenges over the next 15 years. The plan is based on 17 specific sustainable development goals.

The study A Profile of Youth Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) in Canada, 2015 to 2017 is an example of how Statistics Canada supports reporting on the global sustainable development goals. This release will be used to help measure the following goal:


The research paper A Profile of Youth Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) in Canada, 2015 to 2017, part of the Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series, is now available.

This study is also highlighted in the agency's Gender, Diversity and Inclusion Statistics hub.

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