Fair pay, unemployment and rising living costs are top concerns of Arab youth, according to a new survey by Asada’a and Burson Marsteller. “Being paid a fair wage” is the top priority of 82 percent of respondents for the second year in a row. Owning a home, also for the second consecutive year, remains the second-highest priority of Arab youth. Home ownership ranks higher than living in a democracy or living without fear of terrorism.

            More than 40 percent of Arab youth say they are very concerned about unemployment. And 62 percent cite the rising cost of living as their greatest concern. But respondents seem to be more worried about their individual prospects than the economies of their countries.

            About 55 percent of respondents across 15 countries say their national economies are heading in the right direction. The level of optimism varies according to country. For example, 56 percent of Egyptian youth say they have fewer opportunities in 2013 than one year ago. The following are excerpts from the survey, followed by a link to the full text.

            …A majority across the 15 countries are also hopeful for an improvement in their economic prospects, with 55% of all Arab youth saying their national economy is heading in the right direction. When asked about their con‑dence in the direction of the economy of the region as a whole, Arab youth are even more optimistic, with 60% of those surveyed stating they believe the regional economy is heading in the right direction. Indeed, with the exception of youth in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, each nation’s youth expressed greater con‑dence in the outlook for the Middle East economy than for their own domestic economy.

            The majority of Arab youth feel that the Arab Spring has had a positive effect, with roughly half (45%) believing their government has become more transparent and representative, and 59% saying recent changes in their country will have a positive impact on them and their family. Seventy per cent, a slight decrease from 72% in 2012, believe the Arab world is “better off” since the uprisings and two-thirds (67%) feel personally better off.

            In Egypt, however, 35% of all youth say that they “feel anxious about what the future will bring.” Indeed, fully 56% of all Egyptian youth also agree with the claim: “I feel like I have fewer opportunities now than I did a year ago…”

Getting paid a fair wage remains, by far, the highest priority of Arab youth, while youth unemployment in the region continues to be viewed as a major challenge.

            For the second consecutive year, “being paid a fair wage” remains the priority of Middle East youth – cited as the highest priority of 82% of those surveyed, mirroring  the 2012 findings. ­The importance of fair pay is highest in Jordan (87%) and Lebanon (86%) but also a top priority in wealthier Gulf countries such as Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE, where 84% describe being paid a fair wage as “very important.”

            Meanwhile, 41% of respondents in the Gulf and 46% in non-Gulf countries are “very concerned” about unemployment. Forty-three per cent of all youth either know a friend or family member who has lost their job or have been laid offthemselves in the last year. Fifty-three per cent also say the company they work for has decreased in size over the last 12 months, with 48% of respondents in the Gulf and 57% outside the region saying their employer has downsized.

Home ownership is increasingly important but a significant percentage of Arab youth fear they will never be able to buy their own property.

            “Owning my own home,” also for the second consecutive year, remains the second-highest priority of Arab youth, and is more important than “living in a democracy”, ranked third, and “living without fear of terrorism.” Sixty-six per cent of all Arab youth in the 15 countries surveyed cited home ownership as “very important”, compared with 65% of Arab youth in the 12 countries studied in 2012…

            Arab youth cite the rising cost of living as their greatest concern – with 62% of all those surveyed saying they are “very concerned” about the issue, in line with last year’s findings, where 63% of respondents in 12 countries said they were very concerned about living costs, up from 57% in 10 Arab nations in 2011.

Click here for the full text.