What evidence is there on the development outcomes of the political and social inclusion of young people? Review the evidence in lower and middle income countries for including young people (10-25 years) in political processes, formal institutions and governance structures (political inclusion) and informal institutions such as household and community structures (social inclusion). What development outcomes (positive and negative / costs and benefits) are associated with these forms of inclusion, both for the youth cohort as well as wider society?
Qualitative case studies provide evidence – albeit limited, mixed and context-specific – of a wide range of development outcomes from the political and social inclusion of young people.
The key findings are:
Some development actors see youth participation as an end in itself –
children and young people’s enjoyment of meaningful participation is
an intrinsic human right.
Historical events show young people can be a positive force for
transformative social change, such as in the transition to democracy
and economic openness in Latin American countries, the political
reforms in Eastern and Central Europe, and the adoption of new
information technologies everywhere .
In addition, case study evidence shows how, under the right
conditions, inclusive social initiatives – such as peer groups and
peer educators – can help change harmful practices such as child
Young people report the benefits from greater civic engagement of
increased social capital through enhanced skills, confidence and
self-esteem, and greater awareness of their rights. In turn parents
report improved capacities and the positive benefits to local
The literature highlights the potential costs for social stability of
not involving young people in political and social processes. There is
a small literature on the positive contribution of children and young
people to peacebuilding, although findings tend to be mixed and
The literature links child and youth participation, and development
and aid effectiveness. There are success stories of participation
leading to better informed and more effective policy and planning,
budgeting and programme management. There is also evidence from cases
where young people’s political and social inclusion has improved the
quality of education and health services.
The literature reviewed consistently highlights that the desired
impacts of youth inclusion are not automatic. There are significant
barriers to meaningful participation. Outcomes can be negatively
affected in particular if support for inclusive initiatives do not
actively seek and support the participation of marginalised and
excluded young people.
Carter, B. Development outcomes of the political and social inclusion of young people (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 1237). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2015) 11 pp.