Youth and well-being
YOUNG PEOPLE AND COVID-19
Younger adults experienced some of the biggest declines in mental health, social connectedness and life satisfaction in 2020 and 2021, as well as facing job disruption and insecurity.
While the feeling of disconnection from communal life became a widespread reality for many people during the COVID-19 pandemic, the young were consistently more likely to feel left out compared to older age groups at given stages of the pandemic. This new OECD report looks at how recovery policies centred on long-term well-being can help the most vulnerable and support efforts to rebuild natural, human and social capital after the COVID-19 crisis. These include greater access to lifelong learning, bolstering social capital and strengthening trust.
MENTAL HEALTH AND YOUNG PEOPLE
Young people have reported much higher levels of anxiety and depression since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic compared with the general adult population. This has widened existing differences.
Data from July 2021 point to 44.8% of young people reporting symptoms of anxiety in the US, compared to 27% for all adults, while 38.6% reported depression compared with 22.1% of adults. Earlier OECD data (from March 2021) showed that young people were 30% to 80% more likely to report symptoms of either depression or anxiety in Belgium, France and the US.
More data and analysis to identify young sub-groups – such as women, LGBTI+ and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds – that may need more support will be needed to better target extra mental health resources.
Of the voting-age population across OECD countries, 34% is between the ages of 20 and 39. This compares to 22% of members of parliament (MPs) aged under 40 (from 36% in Norway to 8% in France).
Young participation in public institutions helps ensure public decisions take account of a plurality of views, which supports accountability of policy decisions while bolstering greater public responsiveness to all citizens’ needs and preferences. And it can help build greater public trust.
Can governments do more to empower the young and ensure their voices are heard?