Is it surprising that China (31st) ranks just in front of Italy (32nd), Greece (36th) and Spain (37th) in the Youthonomics Global Index? Less so when we examine the 9 pillars that compose the Index.
To begin with, in many ways these countries are not as developed as their richer European counterparts. Then, and more intuitively, the crisis has hit these countries, and especially their youth, hard. Lastly, tomorrow looks a lot brighter for the Red Dragon’s heir.
We tend to forget these three European countries lag behind their European counterparts in several respects - and that is not due to the crisis. They rank between 30 and 40 in the Early Education pillar, while Italy and Spain rank below 30 in the University pillar. Their average wage levels put these three countries in the bottom-half of OECD countries.
Then there is the European financial and growth crisis, which explains these three countries rank in the bottom 5 for youth’s access to employment. Evidently, the public financial liabilities that have accumulated will also weigh on tomorrow’s active population: youth.
However, we need not to forget that countries like Italy had some of the highest levels of youth discrimination in labor markets even before the crisis.
Nonetheless, and in large part because of higher scores in the youth Health and Wellbeing pillars, China ranks behind these three countries in the Youth Now Sub-index - the average of the six pillars which provide a photographic evaluation of the youth condition in 2015.
What makes the difference is the perspectives of improvement. China’s public finance are in better shape than these three countries and, more importantly, the economic opportunities are incomparable: China has top-10 projected growth over the next five years, and by far the highest level of investment of the whole sample. China is an authoritarian state, however, which factors in the Political Weight pillar, where it ranks 63rd.
Still, China ranks far ahead of these three countries on the Youth Outlook Sub-index - the average of the three pillars that tell in which direction the youth condition is heading.
What the Youthonomics Global Index then tells us is that despite a lower starting point and youth not having much say in the fate of its country, China might soon become a better country for youth than Spain, Greece or Italy.