Iran’s Overeducation Crisis: Causes and Ramifications
Middle East Brief 89, February 2015
The Islamic Republic of Iran is facing an unprecedented overeducation crisis—producing far more university graduates than the employment opportunities available to them. Indeed, while a number of Middle East countries have been experiencing the same challenge, the magnitude of this problem in Iran is far greater than in any of the region's other states. In this Brief, Nader Habibi sheds light on the causes, magnitude, and consequences of this growing and little-examined challenge to Iran. He lays out both the Iranian government's counterproductive policies that led to this crisis and the pitfalls associated with the proposed solutions. He concludes by arguing that while the primary symptom of the crisis is economic—the effects of the growing rates of underemployment among young college-educated Iranians on the country's economy—its more important impact may be socio-political: If unmanaged, the growing discontent among educated young Iranians can lead to social instability and political unrest.