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 is built on the framework and methodology of the Social Progress Index – a robust and holistic measurement framework for social and environmental performance that is used by leaders in government, business, and civil society in 45 countries, to benchmark success and accelerate progress across the world. In this chapter, we discuss the principles underlying our measurement approach, and how we define social progress for youth, as well as operationalise it, through the rigorous, multi-layered framework of the Social Progress Index.

The Social Progress Index follows four key design principles:

1. Exclusively social and environmental indicators: its aim is to measure social progress directly, rather than use economic proxies or outcomes. By excluding economic indicators, we can, for the first time, rigorously and systematically analyse the relationship between economic and social development

2. Outcomes not inputs: SPI’s purpose is to measure the outcomes that matter to the lives of real people, not the inputs.

3. Holistic and relevant to all countries: SPI creates a holistic measure of social progress that encompasses a comprehensive view of the health of societies.

4. Actionable: The Social Progress Index is a practical tool that helps leaders and practitioners in government and civil society implement policies and programmes that drive faster social progress.

These design principles are the foundation for our conceptual framework and formulate our working definition of social progress. The Index framework focuses on three key questions:

Basic Human Needs: Does a country provide for its people’s most essential needs?

Foundations of Wellbeing: Are the building blocks in place for individuals and communities to enhance and sustain wellbeing?

Opportunity: Is there opportunity for all individuals to reach their full potential?

These three questions reflect the three broad dimensions of the Social Progress Index framework. Each dimension is broken down further to elucidate the key elements that make up social progress in that area, forming the 12 components of the model.

The Youth Progress Index is the first Social Progress Index to look at a subgroup of the population defined by its age, rather than a population defined by its geographical location. It therefore asks the same universally applicable questions as the Social Progress Index, but the answers to these questions focus as much as possible on the lived experience of young people.

To learn more about how we calculated the Youth Progress Index and what it can tell us about the experience of young people around the world, download the full YPI report.