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Standard Youth Indicators

Programme Management Tool

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Donor agencies are increasingly focusing on youth. Yet only very limited data on the outcomes of programming for, with and by youth is available and the identification of the most effective forms of youth intervention is therefore often challenging. The ability to document and learn from the specific outcomes for young people is largely depending on the design of the results framework, particularly the indicators for measuring youth development.

Indicators for measuring young people’s development
There are no standard indicators for measuring young people’s development. According to the UN Youth Strategy, the UN will strengthen its knowledge production and management systems in the coming years by creating a comprehensive data tool for monitoring global, regional and national progress in young people’s development using the Sustainable Development Goals, the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) and other indicator frameworks with continued efforts to expand the availability of disaggregated data.

Through the development of results frameworks designed to capture data on youth, the embassies will be able to measure and document youth development and thereby contribute to the development of effective youth programmes.

Following is a sample of standard outcome indicators aimed at measuring transformative youth development within the four key thematic areas of The World 2030 strategy of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The indicators are for inspiration and must be adapted to the specific country  and program context.

Generally, the standard outcome indicators are phrased so that they focus specifically on youth but most indicators are of a general nature and can be applied in interventions that have a mainstreamed approach to youth. Some of the indicators are based on data that can be extracted from existing national statistical data and surveys, whereas the perception-based indicators2 require (context and target group) specific surveys and baselines; preferably managed/collected by the youth themselves.

In case of indicators requiring specific surveys and baselines, there are resource implications and surveys (including baseline survey) should be budgeted as part of the implementation3. Nevertheless, such endeavour may possibly yield the most relevant data and learning on youth development.

Please note, that it is simpler to develop youth related output indicators measuring for example the number of young people involved in/completing a specific activity or number of young people gaining specific skills. Inspirational examples of (mainly) output indicators on youth engagement can be found on the USAID funded website YouthPower.


Thematic area


Outcome indicators

Growth and Employment


Average income of youth (by gender/age).


Proportion of population (by gender/age in education, employment or training (SDG 8.6.1).


Proportion of youth (by gender/age) who believe that they have adequate livelihood/ employment opportunities.


Proportion of youth (by gender/age) generating surplus from livelihood activities/small- scale enterprises.


Proportion of population (by gender/age) with an account in a bank or other financial institution or with a mobile-money service provider. (SDG 8.10.2)


Proportion of youth (by gender/age) who believe that they have adequate access to credit.



Proportion of women (by age) in managerial positions. (SDG 5.5.2)


Proportion of population (by gender/age) who believe that local/national/ international decision-making is inclusive and responsive to youth. (SDG 16.7.2)


Proportion of youth (by gender/age) who believe that they can freely and confidently express their voice and hold government and duty bearers accountable.


Number of documented cases in which young people (by gender/age) have influenced decision-making processes at local/national/ international level.


Existence of voter’s education / youth policy / youth quotas in decision-making bodies. Proportion of youth voting regularly in local and national elections.

Number of young people elected to public office (locally/nationally).

Social Sectors (sexual and reproductive health)


Number of services/facilities with improved youth-responsive characteristics.4


Proportion of women of reproductive age (by age) who have their need for family planning satisfied with modern methods. (SDG 3.7.1)


Proportion of women (by age) who make their own informed decisions regarding sexual relations, contraceptive use and reproductive health care. (SDG 5.6.1)


Existence of laws and regulations that guarantee full and equal access to woman and men aged 15 years and older to sexual and reproductive health care, information and education. (SDG 5.6.2)


Proportion of youth (by gender/age) with comprehensive correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS and other STDs.


Proportion of youth (by gender/age) who believe that health services (including sexual reproductive health services) are accessible and youth friendly.


Proportion of youth (by gender/age) who report living in a society with balanced and fair gender norms.



 Peace and Security 


Proportion of youth (by gender/age) understanding and being able to reflect on patterns of conflict and peace mechanisms in their district/region.

Proportion of youth (by gender/age) who believe in youth mobilization and leadership as a means to peace building.

Policies and mechanisms in place to prevent young people from joining armed forces and in fragile regions initiatives reducing the incentives for migration.

Policies and mechanisms in place in conflict prone contexts to protect young people (females) from being forced into early marriages, sold in trafficking and exposed to rape and other harmful practices.

Number of accessible research and documentation that document young people’s positive contributions to peace and security, building a positive image of youth.


For further inspiration


Commonwealth: Youth Development Index. An index of 18 indicators that collectively measure multi-dimensional progress on youth development in 183 countries. It has five domains measuring levels of education, health and well-being, employment and opportunity, political participation and civic participation for young people.


USAID’s Positive Youth Development Illustrative Indicators: a list of intermediary indicators to measure youth related outputs (and to

some extent outcomes) within different sectors.


UN Economic and Social Council’s Proposed set of indicators for the World Programme of Action for Youth: a list of youth indicators to

assist Member States assessing the situation of youth.


UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs: Measuring youth development through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and

the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY). A list of youth indicators.


1 The young people involved in defining indicators can either be selected from the program area/target group or from the Youth Sounding board (ref. Youth Sounding Board) if the Embassy has formed a such.

2 Outcome indicators are designed to measure the immediate effect of a programme; therefore, it is important to include qualitative data based on the perceptions and experiences of young people themselves.

3 It is possible to reduce resources for youth specific surveys by extracting a smaller but representative control group of young people whose situation / attitude etc. is measured before, during and after the intervention.

4 Youth responsive characteristics explained in USAIDs PYD Measurement Toolkit (Annex F) p. 103



Ministry of Foreign Affairs


2 Asiatisk Plads

DK-1448 Copenhagen K


Tel. +45 33 92 00 00


In case of questions, please contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Global Youth Advisor, Thomas Rudebeck Eilertzen (