1.6 Evidence-based youth policy
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In Cyprus, there is an explicit commitment on the part of the top-level authorities to support youth policies with knowledge and evidence from research on youth.
The first explicit commitment derives from the Youth Board Law (available only in Greek) which enables the Board to suggest, in consultation with other state agencies, the conduction of scientific studies concerning the needs of young people and measures for their fulfilment (p.5).
The second commitment derives from the Youth Board’s annual budget in which the budget for research was quadrupled since 2014. More specifically, the budget for research in 2014 was €8.330,00 while in 2022 the budget is €32.500,00 as stated in the National Gazette. The allocation of funds underlines the commitment of the Youth Board of Cyprus to conduct research in the youth field. Moreover, one of the main tasks and responsibilities of the Policy Department of the Youth Board is to submit proposals and coordinate the implementation of research on youth. Lastly, the National Youth Strategy clarifies the commitment for an evidence-based youth policy as well. One of the principles of the Strategy is to follow an “evidence-based” approach for its implementation. More specifically, the Strategy outlines that one of the key elements in its implementation is that it is necessary to collect and analyse information in order to continually improve the situation of young people and thus, the development of effective policies. Additionally, the mechanism for monitoring and evaluating the National Youth Strategy clearly defines the commitment for an evidence-based evaluation of the strategy, so that accurate data is collected and the implemented programs are adjusted based on this.
There is an ad-hoc cooperation between policy making and research. Based on the Youth Board law and the Youth Board’s budget, the Youth Board has the authority to commission scientific research on youth around several policy themes. Moreover, the Youth Board examines research proposals submitted from academic institutions and contributes to their implementation.
The first large scale research commissioned by the Youth Board of Cyprus was on the current situation of young people in Cyprus (available only in Greek) in 2015. The aim of this research was to gather data concerning the current situation of young people in order to act as the basis of the National Youth Strategy 2017-2022. The research briefs illustrate key findings for the young people in regard to the 8 themes of the National Youth Strategy and the former EU Youth Strategy 2010-2018. The research was quantitative and data was collected through questionnaires. In total 1,340 young people took part in the research, 80% of whom filled in the hard-copy questionnaire and 20% the online version.
A second example of this cooperation is the research conducted in 2016 by the University of Nicosia on behalf of the Youth Board on the topic of Active Youth Participation in social and democratic life. The aim of this research was to record the impact of the current political environment on young people. Its ultimate goal was to map and highlight the attitudes and beliefs of young people with regard to their intention to participate in elections and the criteria based on which they choose to participate. The research sample was 1000 young people aged between 18-35 years living in Cyprus.
The research on Active Youth Participation in social and democratic life indicated an emerging issue which calls for future policy action. More specifically, the key finding of the research was that young people who say they are happy with their lives are more active citizens and participate in different forms of social and democratic life.
Within 2020, the Administrative Board decided the establishment of a large-scale quantitative survey for youth, called “Youth Barometer” (“Νεοβαρόμετρο”) for investigating emerging issues and trends which call for policy action. The aim is to capture the situation of young people in Cyprus and explore their needs and perceptions on various topics, such as education, health, employment and active participation.
The 1st and 2nd Youth Barometer were conducted within 2020, with a population of 1000 young people, aged 14-35 years old. The aim was to capture the current situation of young citizens in Cyprus with regard to their life satisfaction, happiness, education and employability and explore issues, such as lifestyle, family relationships, living conditions, health, extracurricular activities, voluntary work, future expectations and lastly opportunities and challenges. The 1st Youth Barometer study also looked at young people’s general views and perceptions on issues related to social benefits, social policies, climate change, religion, immigration and digitalization. The 2nd Barometer re-examined the views of young people on lifestyle, education, employment, active participation and focused on the effects of the pandemic COVID-19 and the participation of young people in democratic life, due to the 2021 parliamentary elections.
The 3rd Youth Barometer was carried out in 2021. Issues related to general life satisfaction, and in particular issues related to the quality of life, happiness, education, and employability were explored. A specific objective of the 3rd Barometer was the investigation into the effects of the pandemic on the lives of young people in Cyprus.
The most recent Youth Barometer was conducted in December 2022. The current situation and the views of young Cypriots on a variety of topics were explored. Special emphasis was given on the participation of young people in the democratic processes, due to the Presidential Elections of 2023.
The outcomes of the Youth Barometer studies are published in the Youth Policy Department’s website.
The results of the Youth-Barometer surveys are communicated to the members of the Cross- Sectoral Working Group of the National Youth Strategy and to the relevant Parliamentary committees.
Apart from the annual Youth Barometer survey, some of the policy themes for which the Youth Board commissioned scientific research during the years 2021 and 2022 is the level of the financial literacy of young people, the mental health and the rural youth.
An example of an ad-hoc cooperation between the Youth Board and the scientific community is the research “The relationship between young people in Cyprus with social networking and the internet”. The survey was conducted in 2020 by the Alexander college, with the support of the Youth Board of Cyprus.
So far, there is no evidence-based evaluation of youth policies.
The agency responsible for national statistics is the Statistical Service of Cyprus (CYSTAT). The aim of CYSTAT is to provide reliable and up-to-date statistical information. It is the competent authority responsible for the compilation and publication of most of the official statistical data in Cyprus. The statistics produced by CYSTAT concern all social and economic activities of the country. The sources of information are both the public and the private sector. Data from the private sector is collected mainly through surveys whereas from Government Departments and semi-Government organizations mostly through access to administrative records.
CYSTAT conducts censuses (complete enumerations), sample surveys and ad-hoc surveys. The data is collected mainly through personal interviews. At the planning stage of the various surveys, CYSTAT takes into consideration requests and proposals from other Government Departments so that their needs are fulfilled. The Statistical Service collects data on various areas, some of which are irrelevant to young people. The key areas that are the subject of data collection and are relevant to youth are Population, Health, Education, Living Conditions and Social Protection and Labour Market.
Until now, there has not been any national youth report. Youth-Barometer, established in 2020 by the Youth Board of Cyprus, can be considered a valuable source of data and analysis on the situation of young people at national level.
Τhe government has a line of funding for research on youth explicitly supporting evidence-based youth policy making. This is achieved by allocating special funds for research in the budget of the Youth Board of Cyprus. In particular, the budget for Research in 2022 was €32.500. The government has not yet allocated funds for the evidence-based evaluation of its youth-related activities and policies.