Incapable to Aspire: A Conceptualization of Ethiopian Youths' Well-Being Using the Capability Approach and Its Consequences on Life Course Plans

Optat H. Tengia, Brown University

This paper explores correlates of youths’ well-being and its consequences on life course plans. Using the Capability Approach, I identify dimensions of social well-being of 2,083 youth aged 13 to 17 in Jimma, Ethiopia. Logistic regression models show a marked heterogeneity in the strength of biography, family and community context as correlates of well-being. Furthermore, I use trivariate probit models to delineate the effect of well-being on three concomitant life course decisions, namely educational and occupation plans, transition to independent household and marriage. The results find evidence for bounded strategic action, by which youths use their well-being as a signal of opportunities and obstacles in their life course. Also, the results show that Ethiopian youths follow a socio-culturally construed normative sequencing of life course transitions. Finally, I investigate the differential strength of the impact of well-being on life course plans across varying biographical and social contexts.

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Presented in Session 23: The Transition to Adulthood in Developing Countries