Friday, 4 April 2014

The Well-being of Youth around the Globe

The blog, by Wikichild co-ordinator Melinda Deleuze, is about the new Global Youth Wellbeing Index which measures how youth are doing under 6 domains in 30 countries with hopes of ultimately improving the outcomes for young people around the world. This post is a part of the Wikiprogress Series on Child Well-being.
This week, the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) launched their "Global Youth Wellbeing Index", with support from Hilton Worldwide. This Index was designed to promote attention to youth issues, to encourage dialogue about the issues, and to invest in young people, given that they are the catalysts for development, prosperity and security. The Index is intended for youth themselves, policymakers, donors and investors, and implementers.

The report on the 2014 results explains some of the situational landscapes in which youth today are living, both negative (i.a. unemployment; poverty; gender inequality) and positive (i.a. education returns; HIV declines; technological know-how). In order to create a clearer picture of what is happening with nearly 70% of the youth (aged 10-24) around the world, the Index uses 40 indicators and provides results for 30 countries.

These indicators are divided into 6 domains (citizen participation; economic opportunity; education; health; information and communications technology; safety and security), with 5-9 indicators per domain. Also, to provide a piece of subjective well-being among youth, the Index integrates 1-2 subjective youth outlook and satisfaction indicators (e.g. perceived stress levels among youth) into each domain.

The main findings highlighted in the report are:
  • A large majority of the world’s youth are experiencing lower levels of well-being (15% experience high or upper-middle well-being, 85% experience lower-middle or low well-being.)
  • Even where young people are doing relatively well, they still face specific challenges and limitations
  • Even where youth may not be thriving, they display success in certain areas
  • How young people feel about their own wellbeing does not always align with what the objective data suggests
  • Across countries, domain average scores indicate youth faring strongest in health and weakest in economic opportunity 
  • Overall, youth well-being trends correlate more strongly with countries’ income levels than with their regions. Young people in wealthier countries tend to have higher overall well-being (see below).  
Global Youth Wellbeing Index Rankings by World Bank Income Classification

The report provides recommendations and next steps:
  • Advance youth voices and participation 
  • Promote deeper-dive and targeted research and analysis 
  • Consider integrated policies and programs
  • Advance the body of age-disaggregated and youth survey data
There are limitations to the Index, such as incomplete, inconsistent and uncoordinated data. The picture of youth also too broad, as the data is not disaggregated by gender, region, rural/urban, disability, religion, socio-economic status, etc.. However, the authors believe that by identifying the relevant data gaps, the Index can also assist the post-2015 development agenda.

The first steps can be difficult, but luckily those involved are aware of the challenges ahead and are willing to take this Index deeper and farther in the coming years. I look forward to seeing what the Global Youth Wellbeing Index will teach us in the coming years.  

Wikichild Co-ordinator 

See Also
The Good Childhood Index
The Child and Youth Well-being Index
UNICEF Child-Wellbeing measure
Child Development Index
Early Development Index
Holistic Early Childhood Development Index

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