Survey reveals optimism amongst Jordanian and Arab youth

(Photo: From Arab Youth Survey website)
AMMAN — A majority of young Jordanians, around 71 percent, say their voice matters to their leadership, an increase of 12 percentage points from 2020.اضافة اعلان

There is also an increase in the optimism of youth in the country that their ‘best days are ahead of them’ – an 8 percent increase from 28 percent to 36 percent this year, according to a press statement from Arab Youth Survey

These are some of the top findings of the 13th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, released on Tuesday by ASDA’A BCW, a consultancy in MENA. The survey also revealed the hopefulness amongst young Arab men and women across the region.

Now in its 13th year, the most extensive study of MENA’s largest demographic, its 200 million-plus youth, polled 3,400 Arab citizens aged between 18 and 24 in 50 cities and territories in 17 countries from June 6–30, 2021. 

The survey was conducted for ASDA’A BCW by PSB Insights, the global strategic research and analytics specialist, amongst a cohort, equally split between men and women. 

Increased trust in government 

Today, more young Arabs trust their government to address their priorities, according to the survey. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of young Arabs — similar to the positive sentiment among Jordanian youth — said their voice matters to their country’s leadership. 

Even in North Africa and the Levant region, which witnessed significant social unrest in recent years, many young Arabs now believe their opinions matter to their governments.  

Optimism for a better life

The pandemic cost MENA economies an estimated $227 billion last year, pushing some countries to the brink of bankruptcy. However, when asked whether they believed their best days were either ahead of them or behind them, an astonishing 60 percent of young Arabs expressed optimism in the future — the highest level of positivity in five years. 

The survey report, themed “Hope for the Future,” based on the findings, further highlight the optimism of young Arabs, with nearly half (48 percent) also saying they “will lead a better life than their parents,” the highest percentage in three years. 

In addition, half of the respondents said their country’s economy was heading in the right direction, and most expected a full economic recovery by 2022. 
The encouraging findings do not diminish the scale of the challenge facing regional policymakers, with 89 percent of young Arabs saying they are very concerned about the rising cost of living. 

More than 8 in 10 were also concerned about unemployment and the quality of higher education, while over a third (37 percent) said they were struggling to meet their expenses. 

Another one-third (33 percent) said either they or a family member had lost their job due to COVID-19.  

Young Arabs identify three strategies to boost job creation, saying their top priorities include: tackling corruption and nepotism, providing more information on the job opportunities available, and education reform. 
They also say they expect governments to help them start their own businesses by providing more access to affordable financing and reducing red tape. 

Shift in the views on gender equality  

This year’s survey observes a notable shift in sentiment on gender equality. Last year, 64 percent of female respondents said they had the same rights as men. However, this year, just over half (51 percent) believe so. 

Female progress within the workplace has also stalled, with only 46 percent of young Arab women saying they have the same professional opportunities as men, compared to 52 percent last year. 

Worryingly, 44 percent of young females also said that men have better access to professional opportunities nowadays, up from just over a third (35 percent) last year.

Fewer young Arabs now consider immigration 

Lack of economic opportunity continues to be the primary driver of immigration, with a third of young Arabs (33 percent) saying they were either considering or had tried to leave their home country. 

However, this is a substantial drop from the 42 percent of Arab youth who said they wanted to immigrate in 2020. 

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