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Spending Market Research

In most of the developing world, youth spend their money on food, clothing, school supplies, and by contributing to the household and savings (YouthStart). Some of these expenses are basic needs (e.g., food and school supplies for in-school youth; basic clothing and personal care items, especially for girls; transportation; and household expenses), while others are more discretionary (e.g., entertainment, Internet and mobile phone use, brand-name clothing, accessories) (YouthSave). Clothing and shoes are a common expense across all regions due to the social pressure to look good, but also due to the rough environment and physical conditions of many countries, where clothes and shoes wear out quickly and need to be replaced (AIM Youth–Mali).
Young people also spend money on inputs for their businesses or income-generating activities (IGAs), including commerce, agriculture, and animal husbandry (especially in rural areas). Expenses may vary according to the changing life cycle of youth (e.g. education, marriage, business, childbirth, asset building, health and education of children).
In some countries in Asia (e.g., India) and Africa (e.g., Burundi, Mali, and Senegal), it is important for a girl’s family to provide a dowry or trousseau to help her get started in her new life; the family may thus encourage a girl to contribute to this important occasion as well. 

Discretionary spending across regions:

Role of the family in spending and other financial decisions

Young people seek independence and want to make their own financial decisions, but they also seek guidance and permission from their families, especially regarding larger purchases (e.g., clothes, shoes, assets), long-term investments (e.g., education, marriage), choice of income-generating activity (YouthInvest–Egypt), and in some countries, recreational activities—even though they might not have to (ESAF–West Bank/Gaza, Savings Innovation and Expansion for Adolescent Girls and Young Women, AGEP–Zambia, YouthStart–RCPB, YouthStart–Furkina Faso, AIM Youth–Mali). When younger (e.g., less than 18 or 20 years of age) or if rural residents, youth may be more dependent on and receptive to parental advice on financial matters (Savings Innovation and Expansion for Adolescent Girls and Young Women, AGEP–Zambia). This may be directly related to the fact that in some regions, youth take care of smaller expenses and feel empowered to make small purchases, while their parents take care of larger purchases (Nike, XacBank). Some youth may continue to involve their families in their financial decisions even after they form their own families (Ishaka–Burundi).

Contributions to household economy

In most regions of the developing world, youth are expected to contribute to the household, when needed, for such expenses as transportation, food, medicine, rent, and debt payments. They may view these expected contributions as their number one spending priority (YouthInvest–Egypt). The age at which youth are expected to contribute to the household and reach financial independence may vary across regions and contexts. In household economies that are linked to the failure or success of the harvest, contributions of youth may be seasonal and erratic. Young people may feel great financial pressure as a result of these expected contributions (AIM Youth–Ecuador, AIM Youth–Mali). Some may migrate to contribute to the household and gain financial independence by setting up IGAs (AIM Youth–Mali).

Youth contribute to their households in the following ways (AIM Youth– Ecuador):

• When they become aware that their parents lack resources (they then seek informal or temporary work)
• Through their savings
• Working with parents (mainly in agricultural activities or in businesses or marketplaces)

Youth may also contribute to their households indirectly by paying for their own expenses (e.g., those related to school, clothing, accessories, entertainment, etc.), thus freeing up the family budget so that extra money can be reallocated to other household priorities (YouthInvest–Egypt).

Unexpected expenses as another source of financial pressure

Youth often experience financial pressure when they are unable to pay for unexpected expenses, such as the costs associated with illness (e.g., malaria, diarrhea, fever, stomach ailments), accidents and wounds incurred at work, the arrival of relatives, deaths, bad harvests, locust infestations, or drought in rural areas (AIM Youth–Mali, AIM Youth–Senegal). It is hard for youth to plan for such unexpected expenses when they have irregular and infrequent income.

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