Most young Jamaicans feel they would be better off overseas – study

(Jamaica Observer) Over half of the country’s youths believe that their lives would be better if they lived overseas.

The 2010 Jamaica National Youth Survey (JNYS) released earlier this month by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) suggests that over 50 per cent of young Jamaicans who live in established households, and even more youths who are homeless see a brighter future for themselves outside of Jamaica.

The study, sponsored under the Inter-American Development Bank and the Government Youth Development Programme is the first of its kind and was conducted by STATIN and the National Centre for Youth Development (NYCD) and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Cultural Development in two phases. The total number of youths who participated in the survey was 5,426 comprising 2,726 females (50.2 per cent).

One part of the survey dealt with ‘Youths in Households’, who are young resident Jamaicans between 15-24 years attached to households.

“Over 57 per cent of (household) youths reported that they thought their lives would improve if they lived in the United States. Fifty-two per cent thought they would be better off in Canada, and 57 per cent thought that living in England would improve their lives,” said Leesha Delatie-Budair, senior statistician at STATIN’s Surveys Division in delivering the summary of findings of the 2010 JNYS.

“Over 60 per cent of the (household) youths thought that their lives would not improve if they moved to another Caribbean island, while 29 per cent thought that life would improve,” Delatie-Budair added.

The second phase of the survey, which focused on ‘Street Youths’ — or young persons who are living, eating and working on the streets — showed even more of these respondents saying their lives would be better if they lived in a foreign country, specifically the US.

“Eighty-two per cent of street youths, compared to 58 per cent of youths in households, indicated that they believed their lives would improve if they were living in the United States,” Delatie-Budair said.

She named England as the second most popular country to which street youths said they wished they could migrate.

“Eighty-one per cent indicated that they believed their lives would improve if they were living in that country. Compared to 57 per cent of youths in households, street youths were more optimistic about life in England,” she said.

Delatie-Budair went on to add, that Canada was the third highest among the preferred countries that Jamaican youths thought ideal.

According to the director of the NCYD, Roberta Brown-Ellis, the majority of those interviewed in the survey have placed high hopes on migration as they seek a better standard of living than they have at home.

“One key thing that we have to do is to listen to the voice of the young.

“However, youths must remember that they have a responsibility. They, too, have a part to play in regards to creating opportunities for themselves,” Brown-Ellis said.

She went on to say that the survey has provided interesting and critical data about Jamaican youths and shows how best the country and government, including her agency can engage its young people and cater to their current needs.

The JNYS was conducted to highlight the economic and social well-being of Jamaican youths and its findings will inform the revision of the existing youth policy, in regards to health, education, training, employment, entrepreneurial opportunities, participation and empowerment, care, protection and living environments.

As such, STATIN, in association with the NCYD and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture will host a series of workshops to address the findings and challenges presented by the survey.

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