Overall rank

United Kingdom

Domain ranks
Gender Equality
Economic Opportunity
Safety and Security
Citizen Participation

British youth enjoy excellent wellbeing in many areas, but their participation in society could be further encouraged.

Ranked 3rd overall in the Index, the United Kingdom performs well in all domains, with a slightly lower rank in citizen participation (10th).

The United Kingdom’s increase in GDP per capita over the last 55 years has outpaced the world average, and the country is consistently better than average on global competitiveness. Youth unemployment of 17 percent mirrors the Index average, but has decreased steadily since it spiked in 2011. At 12 percent, the United Kingdom’s share of youth not in employment, education, or training (NEET) is below the Index average of 16 percent. However, the country has relatively low levels of early stage entrepreneurial activity, with only 7 percent pursuing this path.

Overall Rank and Score

The United Kingdom’s near perfect rates of lower secondary completion and enrollment are consistent with other highly industrialized nations in the Index. Over the last 16 years, public spending on education has been consistent, at approximately 13 percent. While this number is a few points below the Index average (16 percent), the actual amount of investment is relatively high given the country’s base budget.

British youth are in good health. Their rate of tobacco use (20 percent) is below the Index and European averages of 21 and 26 percent, respectively. The rate of youth self-harm (11 deaths per 100,000 youth) is also below the Index and European averages of 14 and 16 deaths per 100,000 youth, respectively. One notable trend over the past 55 years has been the 71 percent reduction in the adolescent fertility rate from 85 percent in 1960 to 14 percent in 2015. This decline is consistent across the European countries in the Index and the world.

Adolescent Fertility

One factor explaining the country’s lower result in citizen participation is that only 22 percent of youth surveyed feel that the government cares about their wants and needs. The United Kingdom ranks 23rd for this indicator.

The Global Millennial Viewpoints Survey

Youth perceptions largely do not match the country’s performance on quantitative indicators. Despite high levels of safety and security on the objective measures, 28 percent of British youth participating in the poll are concerned about violence, abuse, bullying or harassment at school or work. In contrast to the strong economic opportunity data, only 30 percent of youth think that their future standard of living will be better than that of their parents.

Perceptions of Government

The one area of alignment between youth perceptions and the domain score is education: 79 percent of young people in the United Kingdom feel satisfied with their education system or school where they live.