Global Youth Wellbeing Index

The Global Youth WellbeingIndex was launched in April by DC-based non-profit organization Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF), with support from the Hilton Foundation.

The index measures wellbeing for youth aged 10-24 with the intent to bring attention to youth issues and guide leaders in their strategic programs and investments.

It is important to focus on youth, CSIS argues, because:

  • the world is facing a youth bulge: youth under 25 comprise half of the world’s population, with 1.8 billion between the ages of 10 and 24
  • most of the youth are concentrated in poorer countries: roughly 85% of young people live in low and lower middle income countries and comprise a third of the population among the 30 countries that are the “bottom billion”
  • overall, youth face dim career and job prospects: half are unemployed or underemployed, and more than 120 million are still illiterate

In accumulating the data, CSIS also notes the lack consistent data to analyze how this large group is ‘faring or feeling’ and argues that more data is necessary to assess progress.

Under 30s as a % of total population (via

Parameters of the Index

The index represents youth in the 30 countries which represent 70% of the world’s youth population. It considers 40 indicators across six domains that impact youth wellbeing:

  •  citizen participation
  • economic opportunity
  • education
  • health
  • safety and security 
  • information and communications technology

Global Findings: Snapshot of today’s youth

The index offers a comparison of youth wellbeing across nations, confirming common beliefs and highlighting some new rankings. Initial findings of the study suggest:

  • Most youth rank in the lower levels of the Index – the average score is 0.58 on a 0-1 scale (18 countries below this score)
  • Across the board, youth are strongest in health and weakest in economic opportunity – youth have very low expectations of their own economic prospects
  • Wealthier countries rank higher overall – across the 30 countries considered, Australia ranks highest, and Nigeria lowest
  • But… citizen participation ranked lower among wealthier nations. Columbia, India and Tanzania ranked among the top four
  • Wealthier countries have lower youth mortality, but higher levels of stress and self-harm. Poorer countries have higher mortality but also higher satisfaction
  • Country scores in ICT are the most dispersed. While the average is .58, top performer South Korea scored .94 while the bottom performer Uganda scores only .18
  • Countries that perform best in education and ICT are generally those that perform best in the overall ranking of youth wellbeing, with a few outliers.

Implications for leaders

The index can act as a guide for philanthropists, organizations, governments, employers and businesses in making investments, strategic policies and engagement strategies.

Bill Reese, chief executive of the IYF calls the index a “roadmap” for investors:

“It’s meant to stimulate good, smart thinking on where you would put money in country X or country Y.”

Watch the video: The Global Youth Wellbeing Index

 This post is part of the People’s Insights monthly brief for April + May.

04 April & May – People’s Insights Monthly Briefs by MSLGROUP

Nidhi Chimnani

Nidhi Chimnani

Nidhi is Director of Research and Insights at MSLGROUP. She tracks digital consumer trends for People’s Insights and is community manager of MSLGROUP’s insights community SPRINT. Tweet her at @nidhichimnani

One Response to “Global Youth Wellbeing Index”

  1. MSLGROUP Peoples Lab (@PeoplesLab)

    The Global Youth Wellbeing Index hopes to guide philanthropic and business investments in today’s youth #citizenship


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