Here Are The Countries Where Young People Are Happiest

Policies aimed at improving public health and well-being around the world often focus on infants and adults. But what about the people right in the middle?

For the first time, The Youth Well-Being Index [PDF] — a joint effort by the International Youth Foundation, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and Hilton Worldwide — tries to assess just how teens are doing in 30 different countries around the world.

Keep in mind: These are not the top 30 countries — these are the only countries the researchers looked at. They include 70 per cent of the world’s youth. Nigeria, for example, came in dead last, not 30th in the world.

To create the Index, the researchers looked at 40 different indicators to assess “citizen participation, economic opportunity, education, health, information and communications technology (ICT), and safety and security” among the world’s youth (defined on the Index as people 12-24).

The well-being of this age group should matter to everyone. “Youth-inclusive societies are more likely to grow and prosper,” the report notes, “while the risks of exclusion include stinted growth, crime, and unrest.”

Here’s what the rankings look like — green is best, tan is middle, red is worst:

There are actually a few surprises in the data. Vietnam is the only country in the top 15 classified as “Lower-middle Income.” (The World Bank classifies countries as either High Income, Upper-middle Income, Lower-middle Income, or Low Income.)

Russia is the only “High Income” country that’s not in the top 10. (In fact, 1-9 are dominated by the 9 richest countries on the list, with the exception of Russia.)

Additionally, even though high-income countries in general had lower rates of youth mortality, they had higher rates of youth stress and self-harm. High levels of stress, self-harm, and smoking dragged down the ranking of the United States, for example.

To see a thorough description of methodology and the rankings within specific domains, check out the report.

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