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Sep 19, 2013

Commonwealth launches first Youth Development Index


19 September 2013

The Commonwealth has launched the first index measuring the development and empowerment of young people in countries worldwide.

The Youth Development Index (YDI) offers an inter-country comparison of the environment for young people, aged 15 to 29, across five key areas: education, health, employment, civic participation and political participation.

The first comprehensive attempt to aggregate global data on young people, the YDI was formulated to help decision-makers identify and learn from areas of success, pinpoint priority areas for investment, and track progress over time. The methodology was developed by independent academic experts from across The Commonwealth, in conjunction with the Institute for Economics and Peace.

Launching the YDI and its accompanying website and report on 19 September, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said: “The Index raises awareness both of successes and of investment needs, it will help identify and share good practices between countries, and will enable the tracking of progress over time.”

Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba added: “The current demographic profile of The Commonwealth, with a significant youth bulge in most member states, makes it more vital than ever that we engage in practical action that matches the sense of urgency and impatience for change being expressed by younger generations.

“The Commonwealth will continue to work with its member governments to develop and implement policies and programmes for the empowerment of young people.”

Key findings:

  • The countries with the highest overall YDI score in The Commonwealth are Australia, Canada and New Zealand, who are also some of the best performers globally.
  • 70% of Commonwealth countries are classified as having medium youth development, and 13% as having high youth development.
  • On average, young people aged 15-29 make up around 28% of the population in Commonwealth countries. The top ten countries in the YDI have smaller youth populations, averaging 23%.
  • Some low and middle-income countries outscore higher-income countries. Researchers found that a focus on economic growth at the expense of other key factors such as governance and services may not necessarily translate into gains for youth development.
  • Democracies score considerably better in the YDI compared to Authoritarian regimes.
  • The average youth unemployment rate in Commonwealth countries is 22.9%, compared to the global average of 19.2%. The prevalence of HIV amongst youth in Commonwealth countries is 2.1%, two and a half times the global average.

Researchers stressed the importance of more comprehensive data collection on indicators important to youth development, to produce evidence-based youth policies and continue to enhance the Index.

Director of the Commonwealth Foundation, Vijay Krishnarayan said: “It is tempting to see the Index as either an indictment or endorsement of past performances but rather we should see it as a spur to action, an aid to planning and a guide to the way ahead.”

Marc Kidson, Chair of the British Youth Council, added: “What is so encouraging to me, is that the Index is not a report about young people, it is a tool for young people. A tool to make sure they can draw attention to the challenges they face, a tool to make sure governments cannot assume they know best what young people need, and a tool to strengthen young voices with credible evidence.”

The YDI Results Report can be downloaded from the website www.youthdevelopmentindex.org