7M kids in Mexico unemployed, not in school
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7M kids in Mexico unemployed, not in school

Drug cartels target 'neither nors' as recruits

Mexico has a stunning 7.8 million young people who neither work nor study, according to a new government study.

The so called “ni nis” or “neither nors” are believed to be a major cause of instability in Mexico, with the unemployed young people providing an army of potential recruits for drug cartels.

The survey, which was funded by the education department, found that in Mexico there are a total of 36.2 million young people between the ages of 12 and 29.

A total of 20 percent of these young people fall into the “ni ni” category. Three quarters of the “ni nis” are women and girls, the survey found.

“Ni nis” have gained national attention in Mexico in recent years with unemployed youth becoming a feature of major urban areas, particularly the slums around the capital and border cities such as Ciudad Juarez.

Many young people arrested for being in the drug gangs or killed in the drug war were found to have dropped out of education early and had no history of formal employment.

About 70 percent of the “ni nis” had not finished high school, with some 27 percent not evening finishing elementary school, according to the survey.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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Kids kick around a soccer ball in Tijuana, Mexico.