Transitions to Employment and Marriage among Young Men in Egypt

Ragui Assaad,
Ragui Assaad Former Brookings Expert, Regional Director, West Asia and North Africa at Population Council
Christine Binzel, and
Christine Binzel Doctoral Candidate, Humboldt University of Berlin
May Gadallah
May Gadallah Assistant Professor, School of Economics and Political Science, Cairo

October 18, 2010

Editor’s Note: This working paper is an electronic version of an article published as “Transitions to Employment and Marriage among Young Men in Egypt,” Middle East Development Journal, Vol. 2, No. 1, (2010) 39–88. DOI: 10.1142/ S1793812010000162. (c) copyright World Scientific Publishing Company



We examine in this paper the transition from school to work and the transition to marriage among young men with at least a secondary education in Egypt, with particular attention to how the first transition affects the second. In examining the transition from school to work, we analyze the determinants of the duration of transition to first employment after school completion, as well as the type and quality of job obtained in such employment. We then move to an examination of the determinants of further mobility to a second job. In examining the transition to marriage, we investigate the effect of time to the first job and the time to the first good job, if any, on the timing of marriage, controlling for cohort of birth, education, family background and community-level variables.

We find that the duration of transition to first employment has fallen over time primarily because of the reduced availability of formal employment, especially public employment, making it less worthwhile for young men to remain jobless while searching for such employment.

Having access to work in a family enterprise reduces significantly the duration of transition from school to work as does the need to be the main breadwinner of the family. While education beyond the secondary level has no significant effect on the duration of the transition, it does significantly affect the probability of getting a good job and a formal job, as a first job. The hazard of transition to a second job is negatively associated with the time it takes to get a first job, but that is primarily because it is negatively associated with the quality of the first job and the fact that it takes longer to get good first jobs.

Our findings relating to the transition to marriage confirm both the importance of early entry into the job market and of obtaining good jobs for early transition into marriage. However, if delayed entry (due to search) raises the hazard of getting a good job, it may actually be a worthwhile strategy, from the point of view of curbing the delay in marriage, for an individual to spend more time in job search.