Youth, Optimism and Peace


As the world celebrates the International Day of Youth, we ask how the 1.8 billion young people around the world feel about the future, and what this means for peace.

Using our own measures of internal peace and comparing them to qualitative data on levels of optimism and pessimism about the future, we were able to determine if levels of peace in a society impact on the optimism of the youth. The results might surprise you…

Optimism, youth and peace

From a range of survey data is seems that young people living in countries with low levels of peace are, on average, pretty optimistic about the future.

While this may be surprising as those living in less peaceful countries tend to face greater barriers to development and often have less opportunities, their optimism about the future is promising, as future leaders this is the kind of thinking we like to see. 

Not only that, but optimism is a key ingredient in the recipe for high levels of human capital, meaning it is one of the essential stepping stones on the path to a more peaceful future.

IEP estimates that 86% of the youth living in less peaceful countries (purple) are optimistic about the future, compared to 50% in relatively peaceful countries (yellow). Additionally, only 1% of people in low peace countries are pessimistic about the future, compared to 7% in high peace countries (see image below).

Pessimism and peace

On the flip side we see that young people living in peaceful countries are more pessimistic about the future. 

Having said this, it’s not all doom and gloom for those fortunate enough to live in peaceful countries.

In fact, if we look at relative response rates we can see that optimism across the board is about 10 times more prevalent than pessimism.

So what can we do?

If you are living in a peaceful country then…  brighten up! Yes you have a long way to go in creating a more peaceful world, and better life for yourself than the generation that proceeds you, but you also need to recognise that living in a peaceful country gives you access to a lot more opportunities.

Living in a not so peaceful country? Explore what makes a society peaceful and take a look around your local community to see what can be done at the grassroots level to start creating a more peaceful and prosperous future for you and the generations to come. 

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Vision of Humanity is an initiative of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP). IEP have offices in New York and Sydney. For more specific inquiries related to the peace indexes and research, please contact IEP directly.

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