Global Youth Development Index (YDI)

Despite increasing recognition of the importance of young people in the world today, too little is known about the current state of affairs in youth development, measuring the well-being of young people continues to be a challenge.


Prepared by the Commonwealth Secretariat Youth Division the Global Youth Development Index (YDI) is an aggregate of indicators that measure progress on youth development in 183 countries. This includes 49 of the 52 Commonwealth countries and is guided by the Commonwealth definition of youth as people between the ages of 15 and 29. The index is intended to help governments to identify specific areas for evidence-based policies and programmes in order to improve youth development and participation.

The index is calculated using five main domains: levels of education, health and well-being, employment and opportunity, civic participation and political participation.


Surveyed countries were given a Youth Development Index (YDI) score (a number between 0 and 1), where 1 represents the highest achievement for youth development. This measure enables users to observe, monitor and measure youth development and experiences across the world. This scoring system is the same as the one that underpins the HDI produced by the UNDP’s Human Development Report Office (HDRO).

This scoring enables a ranking to be made, this is very useful, however it should be noted that though countries may only be separated by very small differences in the scoring, due to the number of countries in the whole index (183), an impression may be taken of greater divergence than might actually be the case. It is therefore also useful to consider whether a country is at a ‘very high’, ‘high’, ‘medium’ or ‘low’ level of youth development, as this categorisation reflects unambiguously the position of a country on a spectrum stretching from ‘relatively good’ to ‘relatively poor’.

The top ten ranked countries are Germany, Denmark, Australia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Austria, Luxembourg, Portugal and Japan.

The report indicates that, despite some progress, sub-Saharan Africa registers the lowest levels of youth development, followed by the South Asian and Middle East and North Africa regions.



The 10 lowest YDI scores are all Sub-Saharan African countries – Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’ Ivoire, Niger, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali. 

The table below shows the ten highest and lowest ranked Commonwealth countries.


Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “The Index throws down a challenge to policymakers everywhere – without action to promote youth empowerment, boost opportunities for employment and open up spaces for political dialogue, countries will be squandering their most precious resource and storing up problems for the future.

Dr Selim Jahan, Director of the UNDP Human Development Report Office, said, “To a great extent, the world’s ability to attain the SDGs by 2030 will depend on the capabilities of the young and the opportunities available to them. Therefore, the YDI is a welcome development that can help the world keep track of the progress we make in our pursuit of the SDGs in the next 15 years and beyond.

To secure the achievement of the SDGs, the report calls for government departments, business, and civil society to continue to intensify their investment in youth development. The Global Youth Development Index and Report highlights the importance of young people working to the fullest to empower themselves, and underscores that young people are vital to achieving a better world for all.