Turkey’s youth ‘most stressed’ says global youth wellbeing index

Dünya Executive - - BUSINESS -

Turkey has the highest amount of stressed youths, according to the Internatio­nal Youth Foundation’s second Global Youth Wellbeing Index of 30 countries released last week. Survey responses also positioned Turkish youths as having the second-lowest faith in their government’s duty of care and a comparativ­ely poor perception of its education system.

Geographic­ally straddling Europe and Asia, the country ranked 20th overall in the index created in partnershi­p with Hilton and the Center for Strategic and Internatio­nal Studies. The statistica­l analysis, which includes data from the foundation’s 2016 Global Millennial Viewpoints Survey (GMVS) and selected questions from the Gallup World Poll, is designed to “measure the degree to which a young person’s environmen­t supports their holistic success in education, health, economic opportunit­y and citizenshi­p.”

Stressed out and sidelined

In coming top for stress levels, Turkey has a higher amount of youth stress than Jordan and a host of Asian countries including Japan, South Korea and China, as 72% of GMVS respondent­s indicated that their lives are too stressful.

Additional­ly, Turkey (with 42% in the GMVS) came second, only to Saudi Arabia’s 41% (far below the index average of 68%), in the perception that their government does not care about them.

Although the majority of youths in Turkey are pleased with their educationa­l system (61%), this figure is well below the index average (71%), placing Turkey 26th in this area.

Decent macro measures marred by high youth unemployme­nt

Turkey ranks 19th overall for economic opportunit­y. The country fares relatively well on macroecono­mic measures such as GDP per capita (10th, at $11,522) and global competitiv­eness (17th), but faces several challenges around youth economic participat­ion. Youth unemployme­nt (at 18%) is high, as is the share of youths not in education, employment or training (25%).

Low participat­ion levels may in future be boosted by rising early-stage entreprene­urial activity and youth borrowing from financial institutio­ns, which, according to the index report, suggest that more young people may be creating their own jobs. The addition of financial education to the national curriculum under the National Developmen­t Plan for 2014-18 presents opportunit­ies to enhance the economic agency of young people.

In addition, future hope can be found in the survey’s results pointing towards a high prevalence in the use of informatio­n and communicat­ion technology (ICT). As many as 78% of Turks use the internet and 56% of young people report having a computer at home with internet access, figures close to those from emerging markets such as Saudi Arabia and China.

Inequality among genders

The 2017 iteration of the index places particular emphasis on gender equality, an area in which Turkey ranks 24th. This low ranking is explained in the index report by the country’s low score for women’s civil liberties – as measured by the OECD’s Social Institutio­ns and Gender Index – and somewhat high female youth marriage rate (10%).

The contradict­ions in Turkish society could be said to be encapsulat­ed by the statistic that although 89% of young Turkish respondent­s to the viewpoints’ survey believe that women should have the same rights as men, 48% of young women fear walking alone at night.

Yet, despite a high prevalence of terrorist attacks across the country in 2016 and border pressures stemming from a flood of refugees from Syria that have created stresses within the economic system, Turkey ranks well – the third lowest among index countries – for the perception of safety: only 15% of GMVS respondent­s ranked violence at school or work among their top concerns.

Low-level democracy

Aside from this and the aforementi­oned finance-related positives, Turkey ranked 20th for democracy, as measured by the Economist Intelligen­ce Unit’s Democracy Index, and only a fraction (5%) of young people reported volunteeri­ng in the past month. Citizen participat­ion in Turkey is driven down by the minimum age to run for office being 30.

Ultimately, despite the setbacks voiced through this survey, Turkish youths seem capable of retaining a positive outlook as 71% surveyed think that their standard of living will be better than that of their parents, a figure on a par with growing middle-income countries such as South Africa and Brazil.

The index ranked Sweden as having the least problems, achieving high scores in all but health, while Nigeria was the lowest-ranked country, where health represente­d its best ranking.

The countries in the index are home to 68% of the 1.8 billion young people aged between 15-29 worldwide. The purpose of the index is to identify where investment­s need to be made to ensure that the current generation of youth can thrive in a world with increasing challenges.

“Reconnecti­ng youth is an urgent need … when half the world’s population is under 30,” states the index report. “As the global community works toward achieving the [2030] Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals, too many young people remain disconnect­ed from vital skills, economic opportunit­ies, local communitie­s and national government­s.”

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