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LatAm Minute: Citi Foundation's Brandee McHale on Latin America's Optimistic Youth

Youth in Panama City

Youth in Panama City (Image: Bug Squashing Team Flickr)

February 04, 2016

89% of Latin American youth are interested in opening their own business. @BrandeeMcHale on @Citi Fdn's study.
Why are Latin American cities vulnerable to youth brain drain? @BrandeeMcHale from @Citi Fdn explains.

Latin America’s fast-growing cities face infrastructure challenges and digital divides. Still, the accelerated development of urban areas such as Lima, Mexico City, and São Paulo is also leading youth to feel optimistic about the future. 

A global study by the Citi Foundation looked at what 35 cities around the world are doing to help youth thrive. Although Latin America ranked in the bottom half of the list, people between the ages of 18 and 25 years in the region’s cities were the most optimistic about their economic future. Among the 35 cities, Lima ranks as the one where youth are most positive. Bogota came in third, São Paulo took spot nine, and and Panama City ranked eleventh.

Brandee McHale, president of Citi Foundation, warns that failing to prepare young people to excel in today’s labor force could drive away talent, especially in Latin America where youth are “highly mobile.” Of the 35 cities surveyed, Latin Americans proved most willing to move; São Paulo was number one in terms of migration, or how many youth have relocated for school or work in the past five years.

“I do think it’s important for our policymakers and for our private-sector leaders to realize that, if we want to retain top talent, we’ve got to proactively work to create pathways to success,” says McHale.