Youth Progress Index: New insight on the largest, most at-risk generation ever

Our ever-expanding social progress network has hit another major milestone with the release of the first, global Youth Progress Index.

It is one of the most innovative tools for measuring the quality of life of young people because it reflects the things most important to their safety, health and freedom, and like all our indexes, it remains independent of economic indicators. This social progress index offers distinct and equally important insight that will be critically helpful in empowering the largest generation ever in their transition from childhood to adulthood.

And just in time—Young people are facing incredible challenges and threats to their wellbeing. For the first time ever, they are at risk of being worse off than their parents. They are the most at risk of poverty and social exclusion. They are underrepresented in decision-making, and too often are prevented from being able to fully access their rights.


“Across the globe, young people are spearheading movements to drive social progress. By measuring the things that uniquely matter to their quality of life, we gain more understanding of their present needs and future dreams. With this insight, governments and businesses can become partners with the next generation in designing a world they want to inherit.”

Michael Green, CEO of the Social Progress Imperative


Youth and the Sustainable Development Goals

The Youth Progress Index complements other leading global efforts such as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which promotes a more holistic approach to progress and its measurement. All 17 Sustainable Development Goals are covered to a certain extent, and most of the 169 targets are covered in this one simple framework.

Read the full report to learn how this mapping exercise, together with country scorecards, can be a useful guide for public authorities or youth organizations to contribute to their country’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) in support of the 2030 Agenda.


From Index to Action to Impact

The Youth Progress Index scores and ranks 102 countries on three dimensions—Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing and Ppportunity—and twelve components. The results are calculated using 60 indicators of social and environmental performance specific to the youth population. The index provides a country-by-country picture of a young person’s access to education, healthcare, housing, quality of jobs, civic and political participation and environmental sustainability.

In short:

  • Norway is the highest scoring country overall.
  • The highest scores in the respective dimensions are achieved by Switzerland (Basic Human Needs), Denmark (Foundations of Wellbeing), and Finland (Opportunity).
  • EU countries perform more uniformly compared to the rest of the world. The 26 EU countries rank within the first 41 positions in the rankings.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, for countries with sufficient available data to be included in the Youth Progress Index, Mozambique ranks last overall.
  • The Central African Republic takes last place in Basic Human Needs and Foundations of Wellbeing dimensions, while Guinea scores the lowest in the Opportunity dimension.

By not including economic indicators, the Youth Progress Index also allows for an independent assessment of the relationship between economic performance and youth progress in a specific country. This approach helps identify patterns and relationships that can help understand the effects of economic activity on young people’s lives and guide policy priorities and implementation.

  • Overall, youth progress increases as the economy improves, especially in countries with lower levels of GDP per capita ($0-$10,000).
  • For countries with higher than $10,000 GDP per capita, however, the economy’s strength becomes less of a determining factor of youth progress. Countries with higher levels of wealth need to look beyond economic activity to improve the lives of young people.

Read more about the index findings on the European Youth Forum’s website:

We hope this new insight will be used as a mapping dashboard of public expenditures, civil society engagement and private sector investment. The framework can serve as a tool to assist strategic planning, as well as for in-depth explorations into certain societal issues and patterns. It is uniquely designed to monitor progress and evaluate the success of policy investment over time, making it a helpful tool for all sectors of society interested in the wellbeing of our youth.


Partners in Progress

The Youth Progress Index is a joint initiative of the European Youth Forum, Deloitte Touche Tohmtsu Limited (Deloitte), the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Social Progress Imperative, and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE).


These partners came together to address the lack of reliable data on young people both nationally and internationally, which affects not only young people themselves but also government officials, businesses, nonprofits and educational institutions. In order to improve the lives of young people everywhere, more and better data needs to be collected.

Share your thoughts and reactions to the new index and call for youth data on social media using #YouthProgress.



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