New Index Finds that a Large Majority of the World’s Youth Face Challenges to Their Opportunity and Wellbeing

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2014 – The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) have released a groundbreaking tool, The Global Youth Wellbeing Index, which measures and compares the quality of life for youth in 30 countries. Representing nearly 70 percent of the world’s youth population, the Index measures wellbeing in six domains: citizen participation; economic opportunity; education; health; information and communications technology; and safety and security.

The Index is the first of its kind to gather and connect youth-related data to assess and compare the state of young people around the world. It will help policy, society, and business leaders collectively make smarter investments in youth programming, encourage a coordinated approach to planning policies, and help elevate youth issues to the top of the global agenda.

Although youth ages 10 to 24 comprise a quarter of the global population, they remain an underutilized source of innovation, energy, and enthusiasm. In fact, nearly half of the youth worldwide are under- or un-employed. Yet, at a time when policy and investment decisions to address these challenges are increasingly data driven, existing data on youth development and wellbeing are often fragmented, inconsistent, or nonexistent.

Of the countries analyzed, Australia ranks 1st, while Nigeria ranks 30th. The United States is ranked 6th. Across countries, key finding include:

  • A large majority of the world’s youth are experiencing lower levels of wellbeing.
  • 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 suggest.
  • Across countries, domain average scores indicate youth faring strongest in health and weakest in economic opportunity.

“One of the most pressing challenges facing our world today is ensuring that youth have the tools and resources they need to thrive, yet we simply do not have enough information about this transformative generation to do so effectively,” said John Hamre, CSIS president, CEO, and Pritzker Chair. “This Index for the first time offers a framework to help us understand and compare where they stand.”

The joint effort, with principal funding from Hilton Worldwide, is an outgrowth of commitments made at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting to address the youth employment challenge and the need for better youth-related data to assess how young people are faring around the world. For CSIS, the Index is the flagship project of the Youth, Prosperity, and Security Initiative.

“This Index is an invaluable investment guide that will help governments, foreign aid agencies, companies, and philanthropies decide where their resources are most needed and will do the most good,” said Bill Reese, president and CEO, International Youth Foundation. “We also hope this comprehensive look at the challenges facing today’s young people will elevate the global conversation around critical issues such as youth employment and inspire greater action in response.”

For more information or to read the full report, please visit Share the index on Twitter #YouthWellbeingIndex. For media inquiries, please contact Andrew Schwartz at or (202) 775-3242.


The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 1962 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. It seeks to advance global security and prosperity by providing strategic insights and policy solutions to decisionmakers. To learn more, visit

The International Youth Foundation (IYF) invests in the extraordinary potential of young people. Founded in 1990, IYF builds and maintains a worldwide community of businesses, governments, and civil-society organizations committed to empowering youth to be healthy, productive, and engaged citizens. IYF programs are catalysts of change that help young people obtain a quality education, gain employability skills, make healthy choices, and improve their communities. To learn more visit