Creating our Youth Policy Fact Sheets was an exercise in information excavation: to dig into the deep, dark and dusty corners of youth research, data and statistics, and to bring them to light. Much data on youth exists, but is often not collated in comprehensive or comparable ways. Our fact sheets allow, for the first time, comparisons across youth policy contexts around the world – from Bogota to Bamako, from Sofia to Seoul.
A word from our fact sheet lead extraordinaire, Cristina:
“Creating our Youth Policy Fact Sheets was an exercise in information excavation: to dig into the deep, dark and dusty corners of youth research, data and statistics, and to bring them to light.
One of the exciting things we discovered is that much data on youth exists, but is often not collated in comprehensive or comparable ways. Fact Sheets give us insight into the lives and realities of young people, and for the first time, allow us to compare across youth policy contexts around the world – from Bogota to Bamako, from Sofia to Seoul.
We are excited about our Fact Sheets deepening our knowledge of the situation for young people, and the policy environment that shapes their lives, but also about them enabling further interrogation, inquiry and research.”
In August 2013, our Youth Policy Team began developing a process to systematically gather country-level data that could provide an introduction to and overview of the state of youth policies, youth rights and youth participation for every country around the globe.
Our ambition was clear: “200 Fact Sheets in 200 Days”.
Did you know that 200 is a Harshad Number and the sum of Euler’s totient function φ(x) over the first twenty-five integers? Neither did we! 200 is also a desirable cholesterol level and the http-status code indicating a successful connection :)
Today, we have 196 Fact Sheets online, covering every UN member country. It represents the most comprehensive global overview of youth policies, youth legislation and youth realities to date.
Did you know? Globally…
37 states (19%) are either developing a new or revising their current youth policy and 31 countries have no national youth policy at the moment (16%).
66.2 % of all countries (131 countries) have a national youth organisation/association.
The average minimum voting age is 18.1. 6 countries in the world (Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Austria) allow young people to vote at the age of 16, regardless of whether they are in employment.
The average minimum-age for candidacy age in the lower house is 22.1 years, with the most common candidacy age for the lower house being 21 years old, (31.6%, 62 countries), followed by 25 years (29.6%, 58 counties) and 18 (25%, 49 countries).
The average minimum age of candidacy for upper house is 28.9 years old, which is 6.8 years higher than the global average that of lower house. Congo-Brazzaville has the highest minimum age of 45 years.
The average minimum age of criminal responsibility is 11.72 years, with 35.2% of countries worldwide setting a MACR below the recommended age of 12 years in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Youth Policy Fact Sheets
Youth policies, laws and legislation vary widely across the world and the Youth Policy Fact Sheets are a starting point – not a complete picture.
Providing snapshots of youth policy, fact sheets give a quick yet nuanced overview of a country’s framework and context and enables cross-state comparison, covering the various dimensions of economic and political life for youth in a country. They offer a useful summary of the situation of young people and indicators, indexes and legislation areas were chosen for their availability, geographic coverage and the story they help tell.
Fact sheets are useful for anyone—governments, policy-makers, researchers, youth representatives and of course also young people themselves—seeking an introduction to the situation of young people in any country. While it would be exciting to profile all the youth programming in a country, it would be impossible to do so in a convenient yet thorough way. Fact sheets are not meant to be comprehensive, but rather lay the foundations from which to discuss where data is lacking, how programming relates to the situation and needs of young people, and where further research would be useful.
Producing the online Fact Sheets was the first stage in our plans for a rigorous, up-to-date, and relevant online hub of youth data. The next – and potentially more exciting – stage comes when we are able to visualise, analyse and explore the data accumulated and understand what this tells us about the global situation for youth, the regional differences across continents, thematic trends and national level intricacies, quirks, and practices.
Our aim is to support policy makers, parliamentarians, global institutions, civil society and young people to understand the data, what it means and how it can be useful for improving youth and public policies worldwide. If you want to join the effort, contact us here.
Beyond the analysis and ensuring our Fact Sheets remain real-time and relevant, our future ambitions include: establishing qualitative avenues to build in the realities of young people; increasing the range of indicators and data sets; creating partnerships for continuous updating and accuracy; articulating the need for more—and better—data at a global and national level, and increasing the accessibility of the fact sheets, potentially through apps and online portals.
Making the good looking, accurate and up-to-date Fact Sheets you see online has required many hours of trawling governmental and non-governmental websites, checking newly released data sources, contacting agencies, institutes and individuals in-country and extensive drafting, editing, revising, finalising and quality controlling.
In numbers, we have:
- 13 team members working on the fact sheets, equalling
- 4 full time positions over a period of 15 months
- 289 documents in our “Data for Tables & Charts” folder
- 193 data sets reviewed
- 19 refining versions of our drafting template
- 4 main versions of our style guidelines & 2 citation guidelines
- 196 Fact sheets online (which four should we add?)
- 243 days since we set out to finish 200 fact sheets in 200 days (pssst, don’t tell anyone)
- 5884 documents in our ‘Fact Sheets’ dropbox folder, and
- 6,223,337,313 bytes of data in that folder.
We’ve utilised common economic measurements such as GDP per capita, gini coefficient and youth unemployment, education measurements including net secondary school enrolment, education expenditure and youth literacy rates, as well as youth health indicators such as HIV prevalence and tobacco use.
Composite indexes are also included:
- UNDP’s Human Development Index
- Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index
- Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index
- The Commonwealth’s Youth Development Index
It’s clear that further research is needed, and encouraged! Accessible and reliable data is the cornerstone of evidence-based policy, allowing policy-makers to recognise, respond, and (hopefully) improve the realities of young people all around the world.
Youth Policy Fact Sheets complement the initiatives of the Youth Development Index (YDI), the Youth Wellbeing Index (YWI) and the focus on data and evidence (the so-called “data revolution”) highlighted in the Post-2015 agenda.
Data in the area of youth is not without its gaps. We’ve attempted to track down the most relevant, up-to-date, accurate data possible for our fact sheets, however many points are missing. Several indicators only begin to scratch the surface of the complex reality for youth, as well as lack worldwide coverage. This is particularly well documented in the area of youth health, where substantive data is available, yet is often times incomparable in scope, reach or time. Other policy areas, such as youth participation and engagement, are even more under-measured and under-reported.
We’ve decided to make missing data clearly visible – by showing the gaps in charts and highlighting absent information. This indicates areas most in need of improved data on youth and policy – and hopefully motivates not only the research community to fill these gaps, but also policy-makers to make the needed resources and frameworks available.
The fact sheets are living documents, and will continue to improve and evolve with each successive round we release. As information becomes more accessible and available, we will amend the fact sheets each round, ensuring they are relevant and up-to-date.
But before we do anything else, let’s celebrate—for a moment or two—that we got this far.