A new study has found that South Africa ranks poorly as a nation that looks after the well-being of its youth, offering the least in the way of economic opportunity for young people.
This is according to the Global Youth Wellbeing Index, compiled by the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and The Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
The index assessed the quality of life of 1.8 billion young people – aged between 10 and 24 – in 30 countries. The index looked at 40 indicators across 6 domains, including:
- Economic opportunity
- Safety and Security
- ICT and
The study found that a large majority of the world’s youth are currently experiencing lower levels of well-being, and even in countries where young people are doing well, they are still faced with challenges and limitations.
Of the 30 countries analyzed, Australian youth enjoy the highest levels of well-being – while the quality of life for Nigerian youth was the lowest.
“Yet, as the results for Russia and South Africa demonstrate – with high income and upper-middle income, respectively – young people are not necessarily equally served, not benefiting from strong economic growth,” the report said.
South Africa ranked 23rd overall in the index, with the country’s strongest performance in citizen participation – being able to take part in civil society – where it ranked 2nd.
However, in terms of health (26th), safety and security (26th) and ICT (21st), South Africa was ranked within the lower third of countries assessed.
The poorest domain performance for the country was in economic opportunity, where South Africa was ranked last – 30th.
“Access to viable economic opportunities is a critical component of youth well-being and one that clearly impacts society as a whole,” the report said.
“When youth are employed, earning and have access to financial institutions, they are less likely to rely on government support, have better health status and are less likely to be involved in criminal activity.”
According to the IYF, youth across the globe have been hard-hit by the global recession and are experiencing a jobs crisis where they are three or four times less likely to be employed than adult counterparts.