Banksy depicts the economic future for young people. Photo via Flickr.

A report released by the World Bank this afternoon revealed troubling statistics regarding unemployment and education opportunities in Latin America. Authored by members of the Bank’s Latin America and Caribbean department, the study examines the phenomenon of ninis, short for ni estudia ni trabaja, or “neither studies nor works,” referring to youth who are neither employed nor in school.

According to the research, ninis now number at 20 million, or one in five of the population between the ages of 15 and 24 on the continent. This represents an increase since 2000, despite overall economic growth. Also disturbing but unsurprising is the statistical inequality across income lines, 60 percent of ninis come from the poorest 40 percent income bracket. Primary risk factors for young women remain teen pregnancy while young men most often leave school to pursue jobs that do not last.

Country-specific information was not available, but according to INDEC data from January 2014, Argentina counts approximately 670,000 ninis, or 22 percent of youth between 18 and 24 years old, in urban areas. That number increases if you count non-urban areas. According to that data, 63 percent are women.

The implications? According to the World Bank report, stunted economic development, a dearth of intellectual capital in the region and a correlation to a rise in criminal activities. In the words of World Bank Latin America and Caribbean Vice President Jorge Familiar, “Those countries that provide high quality education to a growing young population and also have dynamic labor markets and performance can grow and reduce poverty more quickly.”

The report makes several recommendations to help with the problem, including conditional monetary rewards and awareness programs in schools.

A small ray of hope: young women, who still represent two thirds of the group, represent a smaller percentage than in 2000, though the stereotypical nini is still an urban young woman from a disadvantage household.