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Charted: Youth Unemployment in the OECD and China

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A bar chart showing the youth unemployment rates of all OECD countries and China.

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Charted: Youth Unemployment in the OECD and China

In nearly every country in the world, youth unemployment is much higher than general unemployment.

Unfortunately, the pandemic only exacerbated matters. During a crucial stretch of their early careers, young adults were locked out of entry-level jobs, destroying their ability to pick up work experience and potentially impacting their long-term earnings.

Now, nearly three years after COVID-19 first hit, young adults from some countries, like China, are struggling to find jobs. Using data from the OECD and the National Bureau of Statistics of China, we chart out the youth unemployment rate for 37 countries.

Ranked: Countries With the Highest Youth Unemployment

At the top of the list, Spain has the highest youth unemployment in the OECD, with nearly one in three young adults unable to find a job.

ℹ️ Unemployed people are those who report that they are without work, are available for work, and have taken active steps to find work in the last four weeks. The youth unemployment rate is calculated as a percentage of the youth labor force.

A mismatch between educational qualifications and the labor market has been cited as a significant reason for Spain’s lack of employed adults between the ages of 15–24.

Meanwhile, the country’s reliance on temporary contracts and dependence on seasonal sectors—like tourism—to generate jobs are some of the many reasons for its persistently high reported unemployment across demographic groups.

Listed below is the youth unemployment rate for all the OECD countries, and China, as of the second quarter of 2023.

RankCountryAverage Youth
Unemployment Rate
1🇪🇸 Spain27.4%
2🇨🇷 Costa Rica27.1%
3🇸🇪 Sweden24.9%
4🇬🇷 Greece23.6%
5🇨🇳 China21.3%
6🇮🇹 Italy21.3%
7🇨🇱 Chile19.8%
8🇱🇺 Luxembourg19.6%
9🇸🇰 Slovakia18.8%
10🇨🇴 Colombia18.7%
11🇵🇹 Portugal17.2%
12🇹🇷 Türkiye17.0%
13🇫🇷 France16.9%
14🇫🇮 Finland15.8%
15🇪🇪 Estonia15.6%
16🇧🇪 Belgium13.9%
17🇱🇹 Lithuania13.8%
18🇨🇿 Czech Republic13.7%
19🇭🇺 Hungary13.3%
20🇬🇧 United Kingdom11.4%
21🇱🇻 Latvia11.0%
22🇵🇱 Poland10.3%
23🇳🇴 Norway10.2%
24🇨🇦 Canada10.2%
25🇦🇹 Austria9.6%
26🇩🇰 Denmark9.3%
27🇳🇱 Netherlands8.3%
28🇺🇸 United States8.0%
29🇦🇺 Australia7.8%
30🇮🇪 Ireland7.4%
31🇮🇸 Iceland7.3%
32🇩🇪 Germany6.1%
33🇸🇮 Slovenia5.6%
34🇰🇷 Korea5.4%
35🇮🇱 Israel5.3%
36🇲🇽 Mexico5.2%
37🇯🇵 Japan4.2%

Announced in June, China’s youth unemployment rate has climbed to 21.3%, a meteoric rise since May 2018, when it was below 10%. The Chinese economy is in the midst of a slowdown and its steadily climbing youth unemployment prompted the government to suspend age-specific unemployment data for the near future.

On the other side of the spectrum, in Japan, only 4.2% of young adults are without a job. A key reason for this is Japan’s shrinking and aging population that’s made for a tight labor market.

Youth Unemployment: Men vs Women

In most OECD countries, it’s common to see young men experiencing a higher unemployment rate compared to young women.

This contrasts with the trend across all age groups in the OECD, where the unemployment rate is 6.3% for women and 6% for men.

We visualize the countries in the dataset with the biggest gaps in youth unemployment below.

A bar chart showing the difference in youth unemployment rates between men and women for five countries in the OECD.

There is no singular reason that explains this common gap.

Across the OECD, more young women opt for tertiary education than young men, which may lead to better employment prospects. At the same time women are overrepresented in the health and social welfare sectors—both growing rapidly thanks to an aging population—that may make it easier for them to find jobs.

Why Does Tracking Youth Unemployment Matter?

Aside from being an indicator of general opportunities within a country, youth unemployment is a key metric to track, because it can be a bellwether for future economic prospects.

High rates of youth unemployment also correlate to brain drain within a country, as young adults move elsewhere to find better jobs.

Finally, large increases in unemployed youth have historically led to the potential of civil unrest, which makes it a politically-charged metric to identify and monitor for governments.

Where Does This Data Come From?

Sources: OECD Data and National Bureau of Statistics of China.

Note: China’s youth unemployment rate is for 16–24 year-olds. The OECD youth unemployment rate is for 15–24 year-olds.

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The World’s Largest Economies: Comparing the U.S. and China

How do the world’s two largest economies compare? We look at the economies of U.S. and China across GDP, stock markets, and FDI.

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Comparing the Economies of U.S. and China in 3 Key Metrics

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

In this graphic, we provide insight into the world’s two biggest economies by comparing them across three key metrics: GDP, equity market valuation, and foreign direct investment (FDI).

Starting with GDP, we used 2024 estimates from the latest edition of the IMF’s World Economic Outlook (April 2024):

CountryGDP (% of total)GDP (USD billions)
🇺🇸 U.S.26.3$28,780
🇨🇳 China16.9$18,530
🌍 Rest of World56.8$62,220

Based on these figures, the United States and China combine for a massive 43.2% share of the global economy.

It’s also interesting to note that America’s share of global GDP has actually been increasing in recent years, from a low of 21.1% in 2011. This is partly due to its relatively strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Equity Market Valuation

The U.S. dominates when it comes to stock market valuation, accounting for 61% of the global total as of Feb. 29, 2024. These figures are based on each country’s share of the S&P Global BMI, which is a broad coverage index, including large, mid, and small-cap stocks from developed and emerging markets.

Country% of Global Market Cap
🇺🇸 U.S.61.0
🇨🇳 China2.8
🌍 Rest of World36.2

The massive disparity in equity market valuations between the U.S. and China is a result of differences in many factors, including market maturity, corporate governance, and international participation.

In terms of country rankings within the S&P Global BMI, China is the fourth largest (behind Japan and the UK).

Foreign Direct Investment

FDI is an investment made by a firm or individual in one country into business interests located in another country. This type of investment can be very beneficial because it can create jobs and enhance economic growth. The FDI figures in this graphic were sourced from fDi Intelligence, and represent cumulative FDI stock from 1990 to 2022.

Country% of Global FDIFDI (current USD)
🇺🇸 U.S.23.7$10.5T
🇨🇳 China8.6$3.8T
🌍 Rest of World67.7$30.0T

The U.S. and China are first and second in terms of cumulative FDI stock. Attracting FDI is one area where China has performed very strongly in recent years.

For example, in 2012, China had attracted $950 billion in FDI, good enough for sixth place. As of 2022, China’s total had grown to $3.8 trillion, a testament to its attractiveness to global businesses, even in the face of regulatory challenges and geopolitical tensions.

Learn More About the Global Economy From Visual Capitalist

If you enjoyed this graphic, check out this graphic ranking the world’s biggest stock markets by country.

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