What is the common thread between Tunisia and Egypt? Free university education, with courses of study determined by the government, and a correspondingly high youth unemployment rate.
Having such a large number of unemployed youths can be dangerous. As George Mason University sociologist Jack A. Goldstone notes, “Educated youth have been in the vanguard of rebellions against authority certainly since the French Revolution and in some cases even earlier.”
In Egypt, enrollment in tertiary education increased from 14 percent in 1990 to approximately 35 percent in 2005. Yet this has not helped the unemployment rate among recent grads. The national Egyptian unemployment rate is 9.4 percent, comparable to the United States, but the unemployment rate for people between the ages of 15 and 29 is 87.2 percent. College graduates, largely because of their age, have a ten times higher unemployment rate than for those who did not attend college.