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6 Apr, 2014

New Index Finds Youth Worldwide Face Challenges to Health, Happiness & Prosperity

April 03, 2014, MCLEAN, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and International Youth Foundation (IYF), with support from Hilton Worldwide, has released a groundbreaking tool, The Global Youth Wellbeing Index, that examines the quality of life for youth in 30 countries.

The Index assesses youth wellbeing across six interconnected areas: citizen participation, economic opportunity, education, health, information & communications technology and safety and security. Representing nearly 70 percent of the world’s youth population, the Index is the first comprehensive measurement of youth wellbeing and will help policymakers, donors, businesses and young people make strategic investments in youth programming and elevate youth issues to the top of the global agenda.

Although youth ages 10 to 24 comprise a quarter of the world’s population, they remain an underutilized source of innovation, energy, and enthusiasm. In fact, 74 million youth worldwide are unemployed, and nearly one-quarter of the world’s youth are neither working nor studying. Yet, at a time when policy and investment decisions to address these challenges are increasingly data-driven, existing data on youth development and wellbeing is often fragmented, inconsistent or nonexistent.

Says the preface to the index, “To help answer these pivotal questions, we three diverse organizations—a public policy institute, a leading global hospitality company, and an international non-governmental organization—have come together to consider the wellbeing of today’s young people.

“We aim for a better world, and seek to avoid the perils that may lie ahead (emphasis added). To this end, one of the most pressing challenges facing our world today is to ensure 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. The Global Youth Wellbeing Index for the first time offers a framework to help us understand and compare where they stand. By looking at a wide range of inter-connected issues, we seek insights into what young people are thinking, what barriers they face, and what opportunities they need to be healthy individuals who can contribute to the growth and vitality of their communities and nations.

“This Index will help youth have a stronger voice, and policy, society and business leaders collectively make smarter investments, develop more strategic policies, and encourage greater action that will improve outcomes for the world’s young people.”

Key findings from the Index include:

  • 85 percent of the world’s youth represented in the Index experience lower levels of wellbeing
  • Across countries, scores indicate youth are strongest in health and weakest in economic opportunity
  • Even where young people are doing relatively well and display success in certain areas, they still face specific challenges and limitations
  • How young people feel about their own wellbeing doesn’t always align with what the objective data suggests

While richer countries, such as Australia and Sweden rank higher in overall youth wellbeing, income is not always a predictor of rank. In Russia, a high income country, young people are not necessarily benefitting from strong economic growth as evidenced by its lower ranking. Vietnam also scores well overall, outranking its income group peers.

“As a leading global hospitality company, we recognize that helping to improve the quality of life for young people around the world is critically important not only for society, but also for our business,” said Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton Worldwide. “Young people are the next generation of our Team Members and guests. Having a more holistic, data-driven analysis of the state of their wellbeing will enable us to make more strategic decisions and investments to address their needs.”

The Index follows a recent announcement from Hilton Worldwide to address youth unemployment and bridge the talent gap. Open Doors is a global commitment that aims to empower at least one million young people to reach their full potential by 2019 by connecting them to the world of travel, preparing them for success in the world of work and beyond and employing them at more than 4,000 owned, managed and franchised hotels worldwide.

“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.”

The release of the Global Youth Wellbeing Index is an outgrowth of the commitment Hilton Worldwide and IYF 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. CSIS was brought in as a partner to develop and advance the Index, which is the flagship project of the Youth, Prosperity and Security Initiative at CSIS. In addition to the Index, Hilton Worldwide supported IYF in developing a white paper, Creating Opportunities for Youth in Hospitality, which highlights career opportunities for youth in the global hospitality industry.

More information about Hilton Worldwide’s global commitment to create opportunities for young people and a full copy of the Global Youth Wellbeing Index is available at youthindex.org and hiltonworldwide.com/youth.

About the International Youth Foundation

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 www.iyfnet.org/.