Accelerating Pathways Research Finds Cities Can Do More to Enable Youth Economic Progress

Citi-commissioned EIU Research Provides First of its Kind Index Comparing Efforts of 35 Cities to Contribute to Young People’s Economic Prospects and Surveys over 5,000 Youth about their Ambitions
Nov 23, 2015 2:00 PM ET

New York, NY, November 23, 2015 /3BL Media/ – A new Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) research initiative, commissioned by the Citi Foundation, reveals that youth – 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 globe. Accelerating Pathways offers a comparative snapshot of youth perceptions of their economic prospects in 35 cities around the world and identifies which factors contribute most to an enabling economic environment for young people. The research also includes an interactive tool that can be leveraged by policy, business and civic leaders.

The research was conducted to help inform the efforts of public and private initiatives focused on preparing urban youth to thrive in today’s economy. It is an extension of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, which works to help urban youth build an entrepreneurial mindset, acquire leadership, financial and workplace skills and begin to engage in the formal economy through a first job. The EIU’s Accelerating Pathways research will inform future investments and help to further develop Citi Foundation programming.

“As the world becomes more urban, global and digital, city leaders have an opportunity to develop new ways to catalyze economic growth and foster a better quality of life for all their citizens,” said Brandee McHale, President of the Citi Foundation. “Investing in youth is critical to ensuring the economic resiliency and long term competitiveness of cities, but is often overlooked. We hope this research strengthens and guides the discussion about programs and policies that can best support young people’s contribution to sustainable cities now and in the future.”

“Young people’s economic vitality and ambition are powerful growth engines for the world’s cities,” said Leo Abruzzese, Global Director of Public Policy at The Economist Intelligence Unit. “Cities are set to hold 60 percent of the entire population by 2030, just as the number of youth increases by 100 million globally. Now more than ever, cities must prioritize this growing population segment.”

To encourage youth-centered policies and identify best practices, the research ranks the 35 cities on their environments for young people. This research provides a comparative snapshot of cities’ approaches, and is intended to share learnings and identify clear opportunities for growth as well as areas for development. Toronto finishes first in the Index; New York is in second place, ranking first in the United States; and 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 DC 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.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said: “Toronto is proud to be ranked as the best city in the world for providing economic opportunities for young people. As Mayor, a key priority for me is continuing to attract young talent because I believe it is critical to ensuring Toronto can compete and grow our economy. We understand the key to building a fair and prosperous city includes connecting young people to jobs.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City said: “We are committed to working with young people to support their college and career development, and we are proud to be recognized as the top city in the US when it comes to youth economic empowerment. The results from The Economist Intelligence Unit study are an affirmation of our new Center for Youth Employment’s strategy to enable support and opportunities for our young people. We are grateful to the Citi Foundation for making the study possible and for its long-standing commitment to creating equal opportunities in our communities.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago said: “We are proud to be ranked as one of the leading cities for youth economic opportunities in the United States. The study is an important reminder of the complex challenges young people face, and the multi-faceted solutions cities around the world are embracing.”

Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, DC said: “Here in the District, we are focused on giving our youngest residents a pathway to the middle class. We appreciate the Citi Foundation’s support as we continue to identify ways to help our youth achieve their full potential. As the survey results demonstrate, DC has strong networks that provide information, resources and training to our young people.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles said: "We are always looking for innovative ways to help our young people achieve their dreams. The Economist Intelligence Unit study will greatly contribute to the conversation about how to better secure the economic future of our city by harnessing the power of our youth."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson MP said: “Whether it is delivering apprenticeships or helping young Londoners to devise exciting new business ideas thorough schemes like the Low Carbon Entrepreneur Awards, this valuable research shines a light on the vast array of work that we are doing to ensure our young people are best able to take advantage of London's economic growth.”

Lucy Hughes Turnbull, AO, Chair of the Committee for Sydney, said: “I am pleased to see Sydney in the top 10, and am particularly heartened to see the city ranked first for quality of education and employment opportunities for youth, acknowledging efforts to support education and youth employment programs. This research provides us with powerful data about the ambitions of young people in our city and offers insights into the economic outlook of our city’s future decision-makers and leaders. It also provides important learnings from other global cities around the world that we can use to inform our efforts going forward.”

Luis Cueto, Madrid Deputy Mayor, said: “In Madrid we want youth to personally and professionally thrive and succeed so that they will want to continue to work in Madrid and serve as a source of economic growth. Accelerating Pathways is an interesting report that demonstrates that Madrid is within the leading group of major cities in the world in terms of public support for youth and entrepreneurship.”

Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, the Mayor of Warsaw, said: "This research will help with our efforts to support young entrepreneurs by giving them the best possible base to pursue their career in their own company. Warsaw is emerging as the regional leader in Central Europe, a big advantage of which is a broad academic base providing well-trained and well-educated young employees. We support entrepreneurship through partnerships with the Warsaw’s Centre of Entrepreneurship Smolna (Centrum Przedsiębiorczości Smolna).”

Accelerating Pathways: Youth Economic Strategy Index and Global Youth Survey

The Index scored 35 cities on 31 indicators that contribute to young people’s economic prospects – from city GDP growth and local government policies to levels of youth engagement, education, employment and health. These indicators are scored individually and the results are aggregated into four Index categories: Government Support and Institutional Framework for Youth; Employment and Entrepreneurship; Education and Training; and Human and Social Capital. The study found that while a city’s economic standing is the most significant contributor to whether a city ranks high in terms of having created an economically vibrant environment for youth, well thought out policy and programs can improve the economic possibilities for youth regardless of the underlying economic situation of the city.

The youth survey conducted by The EIU polled more than 5,000 young people ages 18-25 on their living and financial arrangements, education, employment and professional aspirations, the level of their engagement in their communities and their economic outlook. The survey exposes the optimism and aspiration of youth, but also the reality of continued dependence on family support and the frequent need to relocate in search of social and economic opportunities. The survey asks young people directly what works for them, providing a unique new data set for researchers.

Key survey findings include:

  • Three-quarters of surveyed youth are somewhat or very optimistic about the future. Optimism remains high in cities where their prospects have been limited and despite the fact that current global unemployment levels among youth is roughly 3.4 times higher than it is for the rest of society.[1]
  • Young people are ready to build businesses. 77% of global survey respondents expressed an interest in working for themselves or starting their own business.
  • There is high mobility of young people to and within urban areas, and connection with mentors, jobs and new opportunities is 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, according to the survey. Almost half (47%) of youth polled said they moved to a city within the last five years.
  • In terms of education, computer and technology skills are cited as the most desired by 62% of employed youth surveyed.
  • The gender pay gap is prevalent among youth. Young women earn at least 20% less than men across the cities surveyed.

Explore the interactive Index tool, report and video series of young people around the globe at Friend Citi on Facebook and follow @Citi and use the hashtag #Pathways2Progress on Twitter to view the videos and join in the discussion with those interested in youth empowerment.

[1] EIU Calculation drawing on data from the ILO Global Employment Trends report 2014,


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Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit

Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)

The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) is the world's leading resource for economic and business research, forecasting and analysis. It provides accurate and impartial intelligence for companies, government agencies, financial institutions and academic organizations around the globe, inspiring business leaders to act with confidence since 1946. EIU products include its flagship Country Reports service, providing political and economic analysis for 195 countries, and a portfolio of subscription-based data and forecasting services. The company also undertakes bespoke research and analysis projects on individual markets and business sectors. More information is available at




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