Volume 36 - Article 56 | Pages 1721–1758  

The mental health of youth and young adults during the transition to adulthood in Egypt

By Jenny Liu, Sepideh Modrek, Maia Sieverding


Background: There has been growing interest in the stalled transition to adulthood in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and its consequences for young people’s socioeconomic outcomes. However, little is known about how important life transitions relate to youth psychosocial well-being in the region.

Objective: Drawing on a life course framework, we estimate the associations between making transitions in education, employment, and marriage with changes in mental health among young people in Egypt.

Methods: We descriptively analyze mental health scores, measured via the Self-Reporting Questionnaire-20 and disaggregated by gender, for a panel of young people first surveyed in 2009 at ages 13–29 and followed up in late 2013 and early 2014. We regress change in mental health scores against indicators of making different transitions.

Results: Young women experience worse mental health than young men overall. Lower school achievement was associated with poorer mental health; being out of the labor force was an additional risk factor for young men. While average mental health scores improved over time, over a quarter of the sample experienced worsening mental health, related to failure to marry and find a job among older men, and failure to finish schooling among younger women.

Conclusions: Mental health is an important but often overlooked component of youth well-being during the transition to adulthood in MENA, and potentially other low- and middle-income countries.

Contribution: This is the first paper to empirically examine the relationship between psychosocial well-being and achieving important socioeconomic milestones among a nationally representative cohort of young people in MENA.

Author's Affiliation

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