JOSIE, JAYA; CHETTY, KRISH; KHAMBULE, ISAAC; SEWPAUL, RONEL (2017). 'Youth Risk Behaviour, Vulnerability, Capability and Impact on Youth Unemployment in South Africa' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Cape Town 2017.


Sen’s capability approach (1999) is an attempt to go beyond the banal measurements and causal relationships between poverty, inequality and development. A key argument of the approach is that individual freedom is inextricably linked to the endowment of abilities and capabilities necessary for every human being in the quest for true humanity. However a person’s set of capabilities is also influenced by his or her vulnerability. In this sense a person’s vulnerability increases in the face of higher risk and decreases with enhanced capabilities, implying that vulnerability is a function of a person’s capabilities and the risks to which she or he is exposed (Dubois & Rousseau, 2008).  The risks that give rise to increasing vulnerability in developing and emerging economies such as South Africa, are closely linked with higher levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality significantly associated with inadequate acquisition of assets and access to services. Consequently, by acquiring assets and the access to services, individuals and households can protect themselves from various social risks and their associated shocks. The paper advances the argument that public investment in social infrastructure and services has the potential to provide accessibility to socio-economic opportunities enhancing an individual’s capability and reducing vulnerability to risk. Given the high levels of youth unemployment in South Africa, and the consequent exposure to poverty and inequality, the paper uses data from the South African Youth Risk Behaviour surveys of 2002, 2008 and 2011, and applying the Dubois & Rosseau (2008) model, analyses the level of capability and vulnerability of South African youth. The aim of the analysis is to examine if youth in regions with better access to service delivery infrastructure can enhance their capabilities for greater access to socio-economic opportunities.    

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