Constructing a Youth Well-Being Index

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The culmination of a country’s awareness of the importance of progress in human development can be considered as the time when it is ready to design and reach consensus on a broad set of indicators that measure the well-being of society or a subset of society and that can be summarized in a single index. The UNDP Human Development Index first appeared in 1990 as a single number that captured elements of income, health and education indicators and was hailed as introducing a more complete measure of human welfare than the income indicator of GDP per capita could alone. Today, many countries and organizations including UNDP are still striving to formulate new, more integrated and comprehensive measures of well-being. Over time, the process has moved from having the HDI, which integrates three variables, to having indices for multidimensional poverty, gender welfare, child welfare and many others. The process has reached a stage where more and more of the components used in measurement try to capture the non-material aspects of well-being.

In this chapter, a first attempt is made to identify and quantify indicators of youth well-being and to then aggregate them into a proposed Youth Well- Being Index. The purpose is to move beyond those variables and indicators which are available for such dimensions as education, health, income, gender, political participation, access to ICT, and so on. What will be more difficult and yet very important will be the measurement of such things as leisure and well- being, employment and the quality of jobs, and even the dynamics of the family including social capital and cohesiveness.


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