Governance and politics

Youth and the social contract in Pakistan: A summary of the main insights emerging from the testing in Pakistan of a social contract analytical framework for the youth


Pakistan’s population grew rapidly during the last seven decades. While in 1950 it was ranked 14th in the list of most populous countries in the world, with 38 million inhabitants, by 2017 it had climbed to 6th position, with a total population of 197 million.

According to the latest estimates, “more than half of the projected increase in global population up to 2050 will be concentrated in just eight countries”, with Pakistan being one of them.

Pakistan has one of the largest youth bulges in the world. In 2019, of a total population of more than 216 million, 118.2 million (54.6 per cent) were below the age of 24. The population is expected to continue to grow until the end of the century. Under pressure from a growing population, and especially worried about employment opportunities for its youth, Pakistan has resorted to outward labour migration as a convenient way to partially release this pressure on the domestic social system. It is in fact one of ten countries in the world in which “estimated net outflow of migrants exceeded 1 million over the period from 2010 through 2021”. In Pakistan this outflow totalled 16.5 million migrants. According to a survey run in 2009 by the British Council, 75 per cent of young respondents saw migration abroad as the most direct path towards upward economic mobility. 

This research was supported by the Knowledge Management Fund.

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