The MENAACTION Youth Index

Rationale

Youth in this context are those aged 18-30 in the Middle East and North Africa region. There is an absence of attention for young people in the MENA region. This is manifested in the lack of proper programming and the inadequacy of their quality, if any. Youth of the region continue to be sidelined, and there is a lack of urgency when it comes to policy making related to youth. The MENAACTION Youth Index (MYI) seeks to compile all youth-related data into one index. This index comprises of a variety of sub-indicators, including economic inclusion, educational opportunities, freedoms, equality, political engagement, cultural engagement, health, technology, and environment. MYI adopts Amartya Sen’s definition of Human Development and these ideals onto youth in the MENA region.

Methodology

MYI measures youth-related dynamics in the Middle East and North Africa in relation to the following sub-indicators: economic inclusion, educational opportunities, freedoms, equality, political engagement, cultural engagement, health, technology, and environment. The items selected under each sub-indicator have face validity, meaning they are selected to provide insights on the sub-indicator we wish to measure. These items are also unidimensional. They are chosen exclusively under each sub-indicator in order to provide the best value to their respective sub-indicator. MYI relies on 9 sub-indicators with a variety of subsequent items under each one. These items are chosen to provide immense specificity to the sub-indicator, meaning that each sub-indicator will be based on many specific items that measure the dynamics experienced by youth under each sub-indicator. Lastly, these items pay close attention to the amount of variance each item provides. 

MYI takes into account empirical relations within the items we selected, which means that the insights compiled in each question examined under the items can help us predict how the answers will be for other questions under the same item. As such, the research questions designed to examine each item ensure empirical relationship among each other, and thus, the empirical relations between two items can entail that both items reflect the same concept and we can include them in the same sub-indicator, and ultimately in the same index, following the same methodology. To ensure that our items are empirically related, we tested them using crosstabulations and correlation coefficients.

Index Scoring and Validation

Each sub-indicator is measured on the basis of a scale of 1 to 4. This means that for economic inclusion, for example, 1 means youth are not economically included at all while 4 means youth are economically included to a great extent. These numeric values are calculated based on the items associated under each sub-indicator. For example, under economic inclusion, we measure youth unemployment. For that, the unemployment rate, which is a percentage point, will be given certain weight and calculated with the other items to provide a composite score for their respective sub-indicator.

MYI is an index illustrating a scale of 1 to 4, whereby 1 means that youth in a given country do not enjoy a general environment that values their interests and ensures their meaningful engagement and proper rights, freedoms, equality, and human development while 4 means that youth in a given country enjoy a general environment that places complete value on their interests, actively works toward their meaningful engagement, and ensures they are granted full rights, freedoms, and equality. These numeric values will be calculated based on the respective scores of the 9 sub-indicators. 

The results of the MENAACTION Youth Index have been validated. This was done through validating each item and sub-indicators that make up the index, by making sure that they all measure what they were intended to measure, through item analysis, in which we examined the extent to which the index is related to the individual sub-indicators and in turn to the research areas under these sub-indicators.

Index Breakdown

Sub-Indicator

Areas of Research

Economic Inclusion

Youth Unemployment; Gender Discrepancy; Economic Gender Equality; Corruption; Economic Environment; Entrepreneurship; Advancement/ Promotional Opportunities; Degree to Employment Ratio; Debt; Work Sectors; and PPP

Educational Opportunities 

Access to Scholarships and Affirmative Action Programs; Enrollment vs Completion Rates; Retention Rates; Gender Breakdown; Literacy rates; and

Areas of Focus

Freedoms

Freedom of Speech; Freedom of Expression; Political Freedom; Party Creation; Organization; Ability to Run for Elections; Religious Freedoms; Personal Freedoms; and Economic Freedoms

Equality

Gender Equality; Age Equality; Religious Equality; PWDs; Migrant Populations Equality; and Minority Rights (Ethnic and Religious)

Political Engagement

Youth Voter Turnout; Candidacy Age Restrictions; Registration; Number of Elected Officials; Memberships; Youth Clubs; Government/ National Initiatives for Youth; The Magnitude of Inclusion in Initiatives

Cultural Engagement 

Public Spaces; Arts and Theatre; and Youth Clubs

Health

Access to Free Clinics; Physicians per 1000 Person or per Distance; Insurance Coverage; Medication Affordability; Affordability of Service; Women’s Health; Maternal Health; Health Education; Reproductive Health; Birth Rates; STDs; Illnesses; Life Expectancy; Mental Health; Drugs and Addiction; Rehabilitation Services; and Quality of care

Technology

Access; Internet Penetration; Social Media Use; Cyber Laws; Cost of Data; and Use of Phones

Environment

Air Quality; Pollution; Water Quality; Availability of Water; Infrastructure; and Prevalence of Recycling

Countries Covered