Youth in the anglophone Caribbean: the high cost of dependent development

Type Working Paper - Economic Commission fo r Latin America and the Caribbean
Title Youth in the anglophone Caribbean: the high cost of dependent development
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1986
The decade of the 1960's saw the youth of the English-speaking
Caribbean embrace some of the most sweeping changes that this region
would encounter. For most of these Caribbean nation states, it marked a
historical transition from colonialism to Independence that was destined
to irrevocably change the direction of these countries and the lives of its
citizens. Youth were told they had everything to gain. In fact, in the words
of one of the most distinguished leaders of this period, Dr. Eric Williams,
international scholar and founding father of Trinidad and Tobago, the youth
carried the future in their schoolbags.
This study examines the effects of these changes on youth in the
English-speaking Caribbean in the 1980's. While it attempts to look at the
condition of today's youth in the entire English-speaking Caribbean, budget
and time constraints allow only for a general overall view of the area,
using quantitative analysis only in areas for which current data are readily
available. While there are marked similarities between developments in the
English-speaking Caribbean, each nation has experienced and continues to
experience challenges that are unique to its specific history, growth and
development. Differences, then, would prove instructive in examining
regional development trends for youth. Individual studies would present
valuable opportunities for examining, comparing and contrasting styles,
strategies, approaches, successes,, and failures, and to draw out more fully
some of the impressions expressed in this paper.
The paper begins with a brief INTRODUCTION to the cultural
arguments which form the backdrop for the concerns of youth in the Englishspeaking
Caribbean. A SOCIAL AND CULTURAL FRAMEWORK follows to briefly discuss
some of the anthropological theories which serve as a conceptual framework
for examining the conditions of youth in the contemporary Caribbean, and
to which this paper urges that considerations be given in the quest for viable
A SOCIO-ECONOMIC OVERVIEW looks at aspects of Unemployment, Tourism,
Education, Health, Housing and Family, Young Women, and Culture, with specific
relevance to young people. Current data where available are utilized. However, - 2 -
the difficulty in obtaining recent statistics, and the brief time period allotted
for the research and writing of the study have been major limiting factors
in gathering appropriate data for all the areas. Still, there was a strong
feeling that studies of this kind tend to rely more heavily on statistics
than on direct in-put from those being studied. In an attempt to remedy
this, a brief questionnaire survey was conducted in early April on a small
number of young people in Trinidad and Tobago. The section titled Research
Findings contains results of this survey, as well as general assessment
information gleaned from interviews with medical practitioners, psychologists,
educators, community workers, drug rehabilitators, leaders of youth leagues,
social workers, religious leaders, and others deeply concerned, committed
and involved with youth in Trinidad and Tobago and in the Caribbean. In
addition, participant-observation has been studiously applied from January
1985, when this researcher served as a consultant on a youth-focussed project
for Trinidad and Tobago's Ministry of Community Development and Local Government.
Positions advanced in this paper are weighted heavily on data collected
during this period. The section titled Summary and Recommendations recapitulates
the major issues discussed and offers some suggestions. A Bibliography is
provided at the end of the paper.
The findings of this paper make a strong case for a comprehensive
study of youth in each of the English-speaking Caribbean countries, before an
in-depth study of the entire region could be effected. Thus, this study is
intended only as a preliminary study of the English-speaking Caribbean. If
its only function is to signal the level of frustration, disenchantment and
disorientation of Caribbean youth, to flag the urgent neesd to examine the
specific problems and needs of youth of these nation states, while exploring
possibilities of a regional approach to finding and applying corrective measures,
and to activate more relevant youth-focussed programmes, then this study would
have accomplished its purpose.

Related studies