Youth Progress Index

Measuring young people's quality of life globally!

click here to download the youth progress index
The Youth Progress Index is one of the first instruments developed to give the full story of what life is like for a young person today, independent of economic indicators. 

Are young people able to exercise their socioeconomic and political rights? Do they live in a community where they feel included and not discriminated against? Do they have sufficient food to eat? Do they have access to housing?


Towards a more holistic approach of measuring progress
The Youth Progress Index measures; foundations of wellbeing, basic human needs and opportunity.


The Youth Progress Index brings together reliable, relevant data to give each country a score on how well different countries meet Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity. 

By measuring factors that matter to and can impact the daily lives of young people, the Youth Progress Index allows us a to see a much clearer picture of young people’s wellbeing and countries’ performance in areas such as education, healthcare, housing and environmental sustainability.


World map showing results by country
Click this map to see the overview of the scores!

Why focus on youth?

Young people always have, and always will have, their own experiences specific to this stage of life.

Today’s youth (over half of the world's population) are no exception and are facing incredible challenges and threats to their wellbeing. For the first time ever, they are at risk of being worse off than their parents. They are the most at risk of poverty and social exclusion. They are underrepresented in decision-making, and too often are prevented from being able to fully access their rights.

Why the Youth Progress Index?


President of the Youth Forum 2017-2018, Luis Alvarado
"For young people to reach their fullest potential as global citizens, we need to measure what it really means to be young today" - Luis Alvarado


The European Youth Forum strives for a world where young people are encouraged and supported to achieve their fullest potential as global citizens. We need to build societies where political energy is not wasted, rights are upheld and young people have the necessary tools and resources to actively influence decision-making taking into account the planets’ limits and the wellbeing of future generations.

In an increasingly digitised society, data can be a huge source of power and influence. With the relevant, reliable data collected in this Youth Progress Index, we can provide opportunities for countries to share good practices, and assess the success of policy and public investment over time.

From Index to Action!

The development of the Youth Progress Index enables public authorities, businesses, and civil society organisations to systematically identify and prioritise the most pressing needs of young people, remove barriers they face to their rights being upheld, and to provide the resources needed to shape a better society for youth. 

Towards the implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development goals

For youth civil society organisations, it can be used to complement advocacy with credible and reliable data, support campaigns as well as to prioritise areas of action and use of resources. It can support advocacy messaging by identifying and highlighting the challenges faced by young people in their communities. 

For young people more generally, the Youth Progress Index can be used to find information on how well a country performs on issues that have a real impact on their lives, and support demands for political action to improve their situation accordingly.

Of course, the Youth Progress Index directly relates to the Sustainable Development Goals. All 17 goals are covered to a certain extent, and most of the 169 targets are covered in this one simple framework. This mapping exercise, together with country scorecards, can be a useful guide for public authorities or youth organisations and youth activists to contribute to Voluntary National Review (VNR) reports on their country’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

2017 Youth Progress Index Results

The Youth Progress Index scores and ranks 102 countries, and 52 countries partially.

The highest scoring country overall is Norway. Switzerland achieves the highest score in Basic Human Needs, Denmark tops Foundations of Wellbeing, and Finland outperforms others in Opportunity.


Discover the full ranking

In addition to a country ranking, the Youth Progress Index offers country scorecards, which allows for a comparison between the performances of countries with similar levels of wealth. These scorecards make it easier for countries to unpack their own scores into different components to identify areas that require most policy focus and further investment.

For the full breakdown of results and scores and for country scorecards click on the map.

World map showing results by country

Key Findings

By not including economic indicators, the Youth Progress Index allows for an independent assessment of the relationship between economic performance and young progress in a specific country, and identify patterns and relationships that can help to understand the effects of economic activity on different aspects of young people’s lives, which can guide policy priorities and implementation.

Youth Progress Index and Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Overall, the Youth Progress Index has a strong positive relationship with economic performance (measured by GDP pc PPP). This is especially true for lower levels of GDP per capita ($0-$10,000). Above $10,000, however, GDP becomes less of a determining factor of youth progress, meaning countries with higher levels of wealth need to look beyond economic activity to improve their scores.

Youth progress index and gross domestic product

Graph illustrates the relationship between Youth Progress Index and Gross Domestic Product


Opportunity, the greatest challenge to youth progress

Opportunity and GDP


Overall, the "Opportunity" dimension poses challenges on many different levels, from data availability to the interpretation of results and identifying solutions:

  • The Opportunity dimension is where countries, including those with higher levels of GDP, perform the worst. This implies that countries are better at providing for young people's basic needs than at ensuring they feel included and are in a strong position to contribute towards shaping the societies they live in.
  • While the Opportunity dimension shows a positive relationship with economic performance, it is much weaker than that of Basic Human Needs and Foundations of Wellbeing, implying that policy makers should look beyond economic means to improve their scores.

Active citizenship in the EU and Opportunity: a positive relationship

Participation and in civil society organisations


For EU countries, where Eurobarometer data is available on young people’s participation in civil society organisations (CSOs), there is a positive relationship between young people’s involvement in activities of CSOs and the Youth Progress Index performance. This suggests that countries that offer an environment in which youth organisations can carry out their activities perform better in terms of youth progress, suggesting overall benefits of promoting and supporting active citizenship among youth on society.

Methodology and framework

The Youth Progress Index’s follows the framework and methodology of the Social Progress Index of excluding economic indicators, and only including social and environmental aspects of young people’s lives. It is structured around: 

• 3 dimensions (Basic Human Needs, Foundations of Wellbeing, and Opportunity)

• 12 components

• 60 distinct indicators. 

Social progress index indicators

For a full explanation of the framework and methodology, download the full Youth Progress Index 2017 report.

Need to get in touch?

General phone line: +32 2 793 75 20
fax: +32 2 893 25 80
Rue de l’Industrie, 10
1000 Brussels

More information here.