The Global State of Youth Wellbeing is Improving…Albeit Slowly

The 2017 Global Youth Wellbeing Index Assesses Youth Wellbeing in 30 Countries across Seven Regions

By Emma Beck, Associate Manager, External Relations and Communications, PSI

At PSI, we have committed to working not only for—but with adolescents. We’re testing bold new ways of elevating youth as equal partners in designing, delivering and measuring systems that address their health needs.

Our work leads with dignity. It encapsulates empathy. And it builds from a deep understanding of the experiences specific to the populations we serve. Gaining insight, therefore, is key.

The latest edition of the International Youth Foundation and Hilton’s 2017 Global Youth Wellbeing Index delivers a comprehensive data set charting the state of youth wellbeing in 30 countries across seven regions. It sheds light onto where and how investments can equip youth worldwide to thrive in today’s ever-changing global environment.

It’s a goldmine of information that provides us with invaluable insight to inform the work we do.

And so, without further ado, we present here the index’s top takeaways:

  1. Youth wellbeing is improving too slowly to have a noticeable impact. The data reflects a 2 percent increase since 2014.
  2. Only 11 percent of youth in index countries report high levels of wellbeing. The data indicates a strong correlation between youth wellbeing and country GDP, largely due to the resource intensive nature of determinants of wellbeing (i.e. health, education).
  3. The data flags that youth are not prepared for work and life. While investments in education have significantly increased over the past three decades, young people aren’t learning the skills to deal with life challenges.
  4. Youth are optimistic about their economic future, particularly in low income countries. Still, there remains a discrepancy between youth expectations about their economic futures and where country-specific indicators are, in fact, headed.
  5. Some 98 percent of youth surveyed support women’s equality. Even among countries with the lowest levels of support, 75 percent support women’s equality. The next step lies in translating this support, in principle, to tangible applications in real life.
  6. There remains a critical gap among youth access to mental health services. More than half of youth participants reported that the way they feel gets in the way of school, a job or life.
  7. Two out of three youth surveyed feel that their government does not care about them. Governments—both national and donor governments—need to more positively engage young people.
  8. Young people are using phones rather than computers. Young people have, on average, 1.2 phone accounts, and increasingly rely on their phones rather than computers to access information.
  9. 20 percent of youth use tobacco. Most are men, and the highest rate is in Indonesia.

The 2017 index, which follows the 2014 report, defines wellbeing as a person’s physical and mental health, educational status, economic position, physical safety, access to freedoms and ability to participate in civic life. Like at PSI, the report’s umbrella of adolescents canvasses a range of ages (from 10-29-years-old)—however focuses primarily on individuals between 15-24-years-old.

The index dials down to seven domains: gender equality, economic opportunity, education, health, safety and security, citizen participation and information and communications technology.

To learn more, visit the 2017 Global Youth Wellbeing Index executive summary here.