Courtesy Reuters

Marginal Men


SEVERAL factors are creating a new phenomenon in the developing world. It is what Robert McNamara of the World Bank has called the rising number of "marginal men"-people who have reached adulthood with no useful role to play in their societies. Largely the product of an unprecedented "baby survival" boom the world over, these individuals now find a dearth of jobs, of the means to provide for themselves and take part in life around them. Quite simply, there is a serious and growing unemployment problem in countries from one end of the developing world to the other and it is likely to dominate international development in the 1970s much as the food issue did in the 1960s.

The impact of the population explosion on employment has been aggravated in most developing countries by an equally unprecedented migration from the countryside to the cities, by the use of increasingly capital-intensive technology and by financial policies favoring use of capital rather than labor. At the same time, living standards are rising rapidly for a sizable segment of the population. This sharpens the contrast between those who are relatively well off and those for whom the present system is not working at all.

The lack of jobs, along with its consequences, is thereby helping to create the preconditions for political upheaval in many countries. It is probably no accident that many of the most severe of these upheavals in recent history have occurred in countries with the highest level of unemployment. In 1957, the average unemployment rate in Cuba was 16 percent, with a further fifth of the labor force reported as partially unemployed. The Philippines, Peru, Colombia and Ceylon are examples of countries which have high rates of unemployment and which today face problems that are nearly as serious.

This growing problem is already contributing to shifts in governments, often toward the two extremes: toward the Left, as in Ceylon, India, Peru and Chile, in response to pressures from the

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