In most parts of the developing world, adolescents and young adults face rapidly improving prospects for their future, as a result of economic development, modernization, and globalization. These changes have resulted in large increases in school participation and educational attainment among the young, which in turn have been associated with declines in child labor and delays in marriage and childbearing. Some of these changes are occurring as part of the natural process of development; others are occurring in response to the pressures and opportunities of the external environment that are affecting the economic, political, and cultural climates.
In Pakistan, however, primary school enrollment rates still fall far short of universal and have shown no improvement for males in the 1990s and only limited improvement for females from a relatively low base (Pakistan Federal Bureau of Statistics, 1998). As in much of the rest of the developing world, the age at marriage in Pakistan is rising for both males and females (Mensch, Singh, and Casterline, 2005, Chapter 5). Nonetheless, many adolescents, particularly females, continue to marry before the age of 18 despite the fact that the legal age for both sexes in Pakistan is 18. Furthermore, work among children under age 15 remains relatively common.
This chapter describes the transitions to adulthood of females and males in Pakistan, highlighting the implications of formal schooling for the timing and content of these transitions. Our analysis is based on the 2001/2002 AYSP, a nationally representative survey of young people ages 15 to 24 covering the key aspects of adolescents’ lives, including the timing of specific transitions and a detailed accounting of time use (Sathar et al., 2003). The chapter begins with a brief review of pertinent literature and an introduction to the data. The results of the analysis are presented in two main sections. The first characterizes transitions to adulthood in terms of timing, sequencing, and duration. Here, we concentrate on three relatively easy-to-measure transitions in particular: the transition to paid work, the transition to marriage, and the departure from the natal home. The second section explores the transition to work in more depth with time use data on all types of work, including unpaid economic work and noneconomic household work. Because many young people in Pakistan, particularly females, assume adult work roles without entering the paid labor force, the transition to work is difficult to capture using conventional labor force data. A particular interest of this chapter is to map changes in social and economic mobility by age and to define the role of formal schooling in providing opportunities for mobility both directly and indirectly.