Like Human development, youth development is a concept that can be better understood via an aggregation of several indicators. Many international, regional and national institutions publish data on specific aspects related to various age groups, including the young. By putting all the pieces of the jigsaw together to build a wide-ranging index, it is possible to quantify youth development in a reasonable and comparable way.
The YD1 measures five distinct domains or key aspects of youth development.
- Health and well-being
- Employment and opportunity
- Civil participation
- Political participation
Education opens up opportunities and improves and improves life chances. However, there are still vast numbers of young people who lack basic literacy skills, and opportunities are restricted for a range of groups such as girls and young women, rural youth and young people with disabilities. Therefore those involved in youth development should prioritize improving access to quality education for all.
Health and Well-being
Although young people are often thought to be in the prime of health, many die from injury, road accidents, suicide, violence, communicable diseases (including HIV) and non-communicable diseases. Moreover, a large number suffer from illnesses and conditions that hinder their ability to grow and develop to their full potential. In order to develop positively, young people require access to good healthcare and, crucially, should engage in healthier practices to guard against premature death and diseases, and to ensure they will be healthy in adult life.
Employment and Opportunity
Opportunity to gain employment in secure and meaningful jobs or pursue financial independence is a key feature of a well-functioning society. Without access to employment or dignity of labor, young people are unable to develop skills, become established as independent citizens, or maintain an adequate standard of living and quality of life. For this reason, measures of employment and financial independence are important indicators of youth development.
The participation of young people in the political life of the communities shows the extent to which they are empowered and engaged in the political process and have a voice in the development of their communities. Participation promotes social integration, combats exclusion, promotes youth development, and by giving young people a stake in their society creates bonds between generations.
Civic engagement and community development can take many forms, including through sport, religious groups, music, drama and the arts. Data for such participation are not easily available for global comparison. Civil engagement is a key marker for human development and full incorporation into society, and complementary to political participation.