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Youth & Economic Empowerment

Global Youth Well-being Index Provides New Tool for Youth Development

By Katie Appel

Policy makers, donors, program implementers, communities, and youth themselves now have a tool to analyze the well-being of youth from diverse geographic regions and socio-economic backgrounds in 30 countries.

The Global Youth Well Being Index.

The Global Youth Well-being Index, which was published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in partnership with the International Youth Foundation and Hilton Worldwide, was launched April 3 in Washington D.C.

Plan International USA recognized the importance of the tool and had been engaged in the development of the Index from an early stage. “As nations, public, and private sector decision makers refer to the Global Youth Well-being Index, they will begin to understand the unique differences, similarities, and challenges of the youth and will work toward youth inclusion as well as improving youth well-being in all sectors,” said Plan’s Youth Ambassador Maame Yankah.

“Intervention processes will be more effective and tailored to meet specific needs of the youth.” Linda Raftree, Plan’s Senior Advisor of Innovation, Transparency, and Strategic Change, provided insight into the impact of ICTs on youth and helped guide the development of the relevant indicators. As Senior Program Associate at Plan, I was pleased to work alongside our Youth Ambassador, Maame Yankah, to provide input for the education domain.

Maame served as a youth representative during the development of the Index. As Plan’s Youth Ambassador, she had previously participated as a panelist in the 2012 launch event for USAID’s Youth in Development Policy. Graduating this past December from the Templeton Honors College of Eastern University in Pennsylvania, Maame has served as a passionate advocate for young people since she was a child in Ghana.

“Youth inclusion in this process was critical, as this provided a platform for the voices of the youth, including myself, to be heard,” she said, in reference to the Index. “It solidified the facts and data provided and enabled us to make a positive contribution to the economic, political, and civic well-being of ourselves, our families, and our countries as a whole.”

The Index focuses on education, economic opportunity, health, citizen participation, information and communications technology, and safety and security. Nicole Goldin, CSIS’s Director of the Youth, Prosperity, and Security Initiative and principal author of the Index, provided initial findings:

  • The data in the Index represents 70 percent of the world’s youth.
  • Most youth rank in the lower levels of the Index – the average score is 0.58 on a 0-1 scale (18 countries below this score).
  • Australia ranks highest, Nigeria lowest (USA ranks No. 6).
  • The correlation is stronger from income of a country to youth well-being than its location.
  • Economic opportunity is the weakest of all areas: The average among countries is 0.47 and youth have very low expectations of their own economic prospects.
  • Information and technology showed the greatest range of all sectors.
  • Citizen participation ranked lower among wealthier nations.

Goldin said policymakers, donors, and implementers should use the Index to identify areas of reform, priority, and partnerships. She asserted that “youth are not a monolithic group,” and that they will be called on to validate and advocate the data in the Index.

And as Maame put it, “In discussions on youth issues, youth representatives always have to be present.” 

With the fervent support of the diverse stakeholders in attendance at the event, hopefully momentum for investing in youth will continue and global attention on positive youth development will increase, with the Index as a vital tool to drive the dialogue.

Plan International USA stands committed to youth participation in its programming and will use the tool as we work with children and young people around the world to realize their rights and to live to their full potential. The tool will also help to realize the goals in USAID’s Youth in Development Policy, including mainstreaming youth, enhancing program effectiveness with youth participation, and elevating youth in development dialogues. 

For more information on the Global Youth Well-being Index or Plan International USA, please visit and

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