Why the Youth Progress Index?

Policymakers at all levels, from global to local, face the challenge of designing policies that balance people’s social, health, environmental and economic needs. We need policy agendas and reforms that embed resilience so we are prepared for future crises, whether related to health, climate, the economy, armed conflict and beyond.

Sustainable development and the well-being of populations should be the driving force of policy agendas. This means prioritising issues that really matter to people: their health, clean air, quality education, quality jobs, safe neighbourhoods, inclusion in their communities, and open and transparent governments. Sustainable development concerns everyone, but as success or failure in achieving climate neutrality has an even greater impact on young people who will have to live with the consequences, they should be at the center of policy reform discussions.

The Youth Progress Index (YPI), first released in 2018, is the most comprehensive measure of the quality of life of young people in more than 150 countries around the world. Using global data and based on the rigorous methodology of the Social Progress Index, the YPI asks and answers the most important questions about the wellbeing of the rising generation. The Youth Progress Index 2021 fully ranks 150 countries, and 18 additional countries partially. It comprises 58 social and environmental indicators.

Download the report to see the full rankings and thematic findings.

What the index can tell us

If the world were a country, it would have a score of 65,78 and be ranked between Kyrgyzstan and Tunisia in 75th position. A typical young citizen of the world is most likely to live in a big city where air pollution is a serious risk to their health, with an Environmental Quality score of 38,67. They face social exclusion, with an Inclusiveness score of 54,17. In addition to age-based discrimination, they face multiple discrimination based on other aspects of their identity, whether gender, ethnicity, or sexual preferences. Overall, they face barriers in terms of their opportunities to realise their potential and take part in society. They are under-represented in politics and generally face barriers in accessing their personal rights, and have restricted personal freedoms.

The Youth Progress Index report also looks at three major social issues that affect young people and their capacity to contribute to decision making processes: their role and position in the transition to a digital society, their relationship with the labour market, and the impact of a shrinking civic space where young people can their rights to freedom of association, expression, and peaceful assembly.

Finally, as sustainability is one of the greatest challenges facing every society, above all the youngest generations, who will bear the most devastating consequences of an existential crisis they did not create. As a result, we have developed a new, sustainability-adjusted version of the Youth Progress Index, to better weigh an issue that looms large in any discussion of young people and their current and future wellbeing.

To explore the sustainability-adjusted Youth Progress Index, the thematic analyses, and a full discussion of where progress for young people in Europe and worldwide is trending, download our report.

Beyond measurement

The Youth Progress Index is a crucial step in rethinking the nature of progress and the just society, but it is also a critical catalyst for action. It enables public authorities, businesses, and civil society organisations to systematically identify and prioritise the most pressing needs of young people, remove barriers to their wellbeing and prosperity, and provide the resources needed to shape a fairer society for youth. It offers a framework for evidence-based policy making, and data to support civil society advocacy and business leaders in focusing their investment decisions. With the Youth Progress Index, policy makers, youth activists and organisations, as well as businesses, will have the framework needed to help young people to rebound from the struggles of Covid-19 and build a more sustainable and inclusive world.

To learn more about the Youth Progress Index and how you can help build a more equitable, sustainable future, please get in touch.