Investing in Youth in International Development Policy - Making the Case

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Young people account for nearly one third of the current global population. Today’s youth generation is the largest cohort of young people ever; 1.2 billion people aged 15 ‐ 24 (Beyond 2015, 2013). Just fewer than 90% live in developing countries and close to half of these young people live in poverty, on less than USD 2 per day (UNFPA, 2010). Many countries in the developed world - particularly in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, are experiencing a ‘youth bulge,’ which is defined as a peak in the share of persons aged 15-24 in the population. As the international community assesses its progress toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and prepares the post-2015 agenda, there is a one-off window, whereby concerted international effort can enable developing countries to reap a ‘demographic dividend’ from educated, healthy and gainfully employed young people, and can achieve substantially higher rates of economic growth. After 2015, the ‘youth bulge’ in developing countries will likely plateau, so action is needed now to take advantage of the enormous potential generated by these youthful populations. This report gathers evidence from previous research, key expert interviews and case studies to make a strong case for why the United Kingdom Government (UK) and other international development actors should apply a youth lens to all their development policies. With a focus on the need for entrenched mechanisms of youth participation in the design, implementation and evaluation of development policy, this report lays out the human rights, social and economic benefits of investing in youth. Investment in young people is an effective way to meet development priorities in an era of global contraction in development assistance and the reallocation of much international aid to security and conflict prevention.


James Hamilton Harding, Paola Pereznieto

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