Global Youth in Numbers: 2014 Year in Review

By Dr. Nicole Goldin

1.8 billion There are roughly 1.8 billion youth on the planet today amounting to the largest generation in human history; roughly half the world’s population is under age 25.

29% Amidst a global “jobless recovery” and lingering jobs crisis for young people, North Africa posts the highest regional youth unemployment rate at 29%, followed by neighboring Middle East at just over 27%, more than twice the global average. In Greece, Spain and Italy, rates hover around 50%, while South Africa posts one of the highest measured rates in sub-Saharan Africa, 60%.

276 In April, 276 secondary school girls were kidnapped from their school in Chibok northern Nigeria in the middle of the night, prompting international outrage and global social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls, and bringing the threat of Boko Haram further to the international fore. I shared my perspectives on the plight of Nigerian youth in this CSIS Commentary. As the year ends, more than two hundred girls are still missing.

64% At the first Global Forum on Youth Policies held in Baku, Azerbaijan Oct 26-28th, Youth Policy Labs released its latest State of Youth Policy 2014; according to which 64% of countries have an active national youth policy in place. I reflected on the Forum and the importance of youth policy in this Devex oped.

200,000 An estimated 200,000 homicides occur annually among young people worldwide; more than 500 youth are murdered every day.

13% Just 13% of American youth (aged 18-29) turned out to vote in the U.S. midterm elections. Ironically same as the estimated rate of unemployed youthreported that week (and held steady through November). At the same time, earlier in the year India recorded its highest voter turnout in history, around 66%, driven by unprecedented turnout among youth and first time voters who accounted for a fifth of the electorate.

17 At age 17, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her work championing education and child rights. She continued to inspire the world in her acceptance speech: “This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change.” Also then 17,Joshua Wong is credited as being a mastermind behind the democracy protests in Hong Kong that began in September and drew down this month that became known as the Umbrella Revolution.

85% In April, the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) released the inaugural Global Youth Wellbeing Index measuring the state of youth on 40 indicators across 30 countries that hold nearly 70% of the world’s youth. Among its top findings, a large majority of the youth covered – 85% – experiencing sub-par wellbeing.

3,000 In August, roughly 3000 young athletes gathered in Nanjing, China for the second Summer Youth Olympic Games. With some controversy, nearly 30 athletes from Ebola stricken nations in West Africa – Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea – were absent from competition. Millions of young people have seen their education and/or livelihoods disrupted by the deadly virus; bringing a warning from many, including Liberia’s President Sirleaf, of a ‘Lost Generation’.

70% In one 2014 market research survey, over 70% of youth said they would spend their last 10$ topping up their mobile phones, versus on food. An estimated 1 billion young people under 30 own a mobile phone. At the same time nearly 70% of youth in Iran reported using illicit means to access the internet.

Originally published here.

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