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Working Paper 158 - Tackling Graduate Unemployment through Employment Subsidies an Assessment of the SIVP Programme in Tunisia
On 17th December 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor in the rural town of Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia, set himself on fire. His death two weeks later sparked demonstrations and riots across the country which led to the Tunisian revolution and the Arab Spring more widely. Although it was later denied (including by his own family members) that he had a university degree, his desperate act was blamed at least in part on the high level of graduate unemployment in the country. Irrespective of the truth regarding Mohamed Bouazizi’s qualifications, it is widely agreed that the level of unemployment among university graduates in Tunisia contributed to the rise of social unrest. As shown in Figure 1, while the number of graduates in Tunisia increased five-fold over the period 1994-2009, so did the graduate unemployment rate. In 2009/10, one year prior to the Tunisian revolution, nearly one in four university graduates were unemployed.