In April 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), with support from the World Bank, launched the COVID-19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey (NLPS); a monthly survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,950 households to monitor the socio-economic impact of the pandemic and other shocks. The first round (baseline) of the survey was conducted in April/May 2020, during which a federally mandated lockdown was in full effect. At the time of the twelfth round of the NLPS - conducted in April 10-27, 2021 - there were far fewer restrictions on activities and movement within the country.
This brief presents the main findings from the twelfth round of the Nigeria COVID-19 NLPS. The most important innovation in the twelfth round was to collect information from a youth (someone aged 15-25 years old) randomly selected from each household. This provides a deeper understanding of the aspirations, employment, and willingness to be vaccinated of this age cohort. The phone numbers of the selected youth were pre-filled for the interviewer to call with specific instruction to interview only the selected youth, with no replacement. Quality control mechanisms were also put in place to ensure the interviewers adhered to these directives.
More than half of the youth (15-25 years old) were attending school or training at the time of the twelfth-round interviews while 35% of them were working and 13% were neither attending school nor working. The share of male youth working (39%) was higher than the share of female youth (31%). As would be expected, this composition also varies by age: 71% of youth aged 15-18 years were mainly attending school or training, while only 30% of those within 23-25 age cohort were doing so.
The share of urban youth attending school or training (61%) was significantly higher than the share of rural youth (49%) doing so. Relatedly, there was also variation in working/training status across expenditure quin-tiles: 40% of young people that live in the poorest 20 percent of households were working compared to 29% of those in the richest 20 percent.
The disparities between urban and rural youths are further expounded by the average age when they started school or working. While young people in urban areas started school when they were 4.3 years old on average, rural youth started one year later, when they were 5.5 years old. On the other hand, urban youth started to work approximately two years later than their rural counterparts. This shows that rural youth, in general, spent less time in school and, therefore, accumulated fewer years of schooling than those in urban areas. Similar results were also found across the consumption distribution: youths from the poorest 20 percent of households started school at age 6.4 but commenced working when they were about 12 years old. Conversely, young people in the richest 20 percent of households started school when they were 4 years old and did not start working until they were almost 18 years old.
The main sources of income (money) for young people in Nigeria was their regular job (47%) or their parents and/or family (41%). Youth's main source of income varies across gender, with 57% of young males reporting that their main source is their regular job while 50% of young females reported that their parents and/or family was their main source. Differences in income/money sources across consumption quintiles are also considerable: 64% of youths in the poorest 20 percent of households rely on income from their regular job while only 38% of youths from the richest 20 percent of households reported this source as their main income source while relying more heavily on parents or family for income. This is not surprising given that most young people from poor households were already working by age 12 when - as per Nigeria's Universal Basic Education policy - they should still be in Junior Secondary School.
Youth in Education
Around 64% of Nigerian youths who were attending school/training in April 2021 were enrolled in secondary levels of education. Of these, 78% indicated that they were planning to pursue further education/training immediately after completing their current level of education/training, while about 6% of them plan on starting a business, 6% plan to work as a trainee or apprentice, and 4% plan on working as an employee. In the case of youths enrolled in Quranic education (that account for 11% of youth attending school), more than a third would like to start a business and another third would like to continue studying.
When youths were asked the ideal level of formal education that they would like to complete, more than half of them would like to finish university (undergraduate), while a further 29% would like to complete post-graduate studies. However, there are some differences by gender - while one in three male youth would like to complete post-graduate studies, fewer than one in four females would like to reach this level. There are also stark differences in aspirations when comparing youth from the poorest households with youth from the richest households. Almost half of the youths living in a household in the richest quintile would like to complete post-graduate studies, while only 12% of youths living in households in the poorest quintile would like to complete this level of education. Conversely, about 4% of young people from the richest quintile aspire to reach only secondary education, compared to 20% of young people from the poorest quintile.
The most common constraint reported by youths on achieving their ideal level of education was lack of money 85% of Nigerian youths indicated this as one of their main constraints. Looking across the gender divide, 93% of young males reported lack of money as one of the main limitations, followed by lack of connections or acquaintances. Similarly, 75% of the female youths reported lack of money as one of the main constraints, followed by domestic obligations (11%).
Young Nigerians also continue to aspire to good professional jobs; these aspirations seem to be misaligned with the state of the Nigerian labor market, especially following the COVID-19 crisis, which could result in widespread disappointment and frustration without appropriate policies. When asked what their dream job is, the most commonly reported was Trader or businessperson (22%). It is the most common even among the different subgroups of youth, such as by sex or consumption quintile. Other common dream jobs reported were doctor, engineer, and tailor. There are some differences, however, across gender of youths that need mention. While 14% of young males aspire to be engineers, only 1% of young females dream to have this job. In addition, 11% of young females aspire to become nurses, while virtually none of the young males consider nursing as their dream job.
There are also differences in young people's job aspirations across the different consumption quintiles. While 15% of the young people in the richest quintile dream of becoming engineers, only 1% of those in the poorest quintile dream of this profession. Conversely, 11% of the youths in the poorest quintile aspire to become soldiers, compared to virtually 0% of the youth in the richest quintile.
Furthermore, 92% percent of the youth in the richest consumption quintile believe that they are likely or very likely to achieve their dream job. In the case of youth in the poorest quintile, this figure is only 63%. This disparity reveals the different perceptions that young people have regarding their probability of reaching their goals.
Another relevant metric to define youth aspirations is to whether they know someone who holds their dream job. These persons would generally serve as role models to young people when they are considering their future profession. More than two-thirds of Nigerian youth report knowing someone in their community who has their dream job, but 47% of them know of a woman in their community that has their dream job. About 63% of the young females in Nigeria reported that they know a woman in their community that is currently in their dream job.
The vast majority of Nigerian youth reported that they would agree to be vaccinated (89%) should an approved vaccine become available in the country at zero cost. Willingness to be vaccinated among the youth was higher in rural (92%) than in urban (80%) areas, which is surprising given that COVID-19 is more likely to spread in more densely populated urban areas. These results largely mimic the willingness to be vaccinated among main household respondents (not specifically youths) from previous rounds of the NLPS (Round 6 & 10).
Young people in poor households are more willing to get vaccinated than their rich counterparts. This is not surprising as a similar pattern was observed in previous rounds (6 & 10) of the NLPS when the vaccine questions were fielded to the main respondent. Generally, 95% of young people in the poorest 20 percent of households are willing to be vaccinated, compared with 80% of young people in the richest 20 percent of households.