Economist Intelligence Unit and Citi Foundation Reveal Youth Can Help Global Cities Thrive

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Globally, cities are set to hold 60 percent of the entire population by 2030, just as the youth population increases by 100 million. Therefore, young people’s economic vitality and ambition will be powerful growth engines for world’s cities, and it is important to invest in youth to ensure economic resilience and long-term competitiveness. New research by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Accelerating Pathways, commissioned by the Citi Foundation, reveals that young people – while optimistic and entrepreneurial – struggle to find employment, access to technology, pay equity and support networks that can help them thrive in cities around the world. The report offers a comparative snapshot of youth perceptions of their economic prospects in 35 international cities, identifying which factors contribute most to an enabling economic environment for young people.

More than 5,000 young people ages 18-25 were polled on their living and financial arrangements, education, employment and professional aspirations, the level of their engagement in their communities and their economic outlook. Toronto finished first in the Index; New York in second place, ranking first in the U.S. while Chicago finishes third in the overall Index, scoring among the top five across all four categories assessed. Three Asian cities – Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney – finish in the top ten, reflecting the importance these cities attach to engaging the next generation. Washington D.C. scores among the top cities studied with regard to the presence and effectiveness of youth networks, while London ranks most highly for its local government support and institutional framework for youth.

Some of the key findings show that young people are ready to build businesses; 77 percent expressed an interest in working for themselves or starting their own business. There is high mobility of young people to and within urban areas. Connections with mentors, jobs and new opportunities are fundamental to their ability to boost their economic standing. Nine out of ten respondents who moved over the prior five years to a city within their own country did so for employment, education or for a better life. Almost half of the youth polled said they moved to a city within the last five years. Interestingly, the gender pay gap is prevalent among youth: young women earn at least 20 percent less than men across the cities surveyed.

The research is an extension of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, which works to help urban youth build an entrepreneurial mind-set, acquire leadership, financial and workplace skills and begin to engage in the formal economy through a first job. The survey exposes the reality of continued dependence on family support and the frequent need to relocate in search of social and economic opportunities. There is also an interactive tool that can be leveraged by policy, business and civic leaders.

Now more than ever, cities must prioritise this growing population in society. Hopefully, this EIU study will help contribute to the conversation about how to better secure the economic future of global cities by harnessing the power of our youth.

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