Sweden is the best country in Europe to be young, and the second best in the world, according to a ranking released on Thursday. But the report authors found that young Swedes may not feel they are being heard by policy-makers.
The Global Youth Wellbeing Index, published by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, ranked countries on education, job prospects, health and safety for people aged from ten to 24 years old.
Australia took top spot followed by Sweden, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The United States was in sixth place and in last place of the 30 countries ranked was Nigeria.
Report author Nicole Goldin said the research was meant to increase understanding of young people’s feelings and how they felt they were doing in society. The centre's parametres for measuring well-being were inspired by, the report said, on the OECD well-being index and the Millennium Development Goals.
Key factors for a young person's well-being were citizen participation, economic opportunity, education, health, access to IT technology, as well as safety and security. The report also looked at sectors that affect all citizens, including young people, such as infrastructure and conflict levels.
“Young people’s needs and aspirations have too often gone largely unnoticed or unheard,” she said.
The report also noted that perceived well-being may not align with the data analysis.
"How young people feel about their own well-being does not always align with what the objective data suggest," the author noted. Overall, some 15 percent of young people whose countries were included in the study were said to experience "high or upper-middle well-being."
The report authors warned of teaching young people about democracy without empowering them to be heard in real policy-making.
"Too frequently, however, participation is reduced to a playground for democracy without real impact", the report noted, underlining the study's attempt to assess the quality of youth participation, not just how many activities young people were signed up for.
Sweden did not score well in the participation factor, when looking at how young people felt about their influence.
"Perhaps most dramatically, in the citizen participation domain, negative youth opinion moves the United States and Sweden (down) by 11 and nine places, respectively," the report