Data for the YouthfulCities Canadian Index was collected between September 2016 and December 2017 and largely reflects information current for 2016-2017. As one small example, St. John's is listed in our database as having no professional sports team. They now have a Canadian Basketball team, The Edge. They came online after our reporting deadline, but we have updated our database for 2019.




Our methodology is made up of three key steps:


1. Determining what to measure in cities We used our Urban Attitudes Survey, a quantitative survey of 30,000 youth living in cities around the world that asks what is important to youth about their cities. This led us to establish 20 Urban Attributes for measurement across all our cities.


2. Recruiting a team of Urban Decoders All YouthfulCities data is collected by our teams of local youth researchers, who we call our “Urban Decoders”. They’re 15-29 years old, are connected, engaged, curious and inventive. They include students, entrepreneurs and employees of government and private enterprise. All of them exist as the driving force behind the youth-led regeneration in each of the cities we work in. We recruit, train, support and connect all of our Urban Decoders through the data collection process, and we continue to provide support with networking after project responsibilities are completed.


3. Collecting data to measure important attributes of cities YouthfulCities Index: A massive global database that measures, compares and ranks the cities in our Index across 20 Urban Attributes using a total of 121 indicators. The indicators consist of primary and secondary data that Urban Decoders - our globally dispersed team of young urban researchers - collect locally and submit using collaborative, cloud-based research workbooks.


IMPORTANT NOTE: The Survey data is not used as Index data. It is only used to build a more inclusive and credible weighting system for the Index. ie. Safety is more important to youth than Fashion so the Index scores reflect this through weighting of scores based on the Survey results.



Checking the primary and secondary YouthfulCities Global Index data

Once work is collected and submitted, all data goes through a rigorous internal review and check. Every data point is submitted along with a reliable source. The internal YouthfulCities team, along with external academic advisors, goes over the data points and sources, flags anything that does not hold up to scrutiny, and if necessary, uses our source database to replace the data point. All data checking is done collaboratively and can be tracked by all team members.


Normalizing the YouthfulCities Global Index data

Once data is checked it needs to be normalized in order to accurately compare each city:

• Since we’re motivated by a desire to measure cities from the perspective of youth, and since reliable average youth income data does not exist in all of the cities in our Index, we measure all cost indicators relative to one hour of minimum wage labour in each city. 

• For example, If minimum wage in a city is $10/hour and the cost of a movie ticket is $12, the cost of a movie ticket tied to minimum wage equals 1.2



Comparing data from different years

Wherever possible, data was gathered from the same calendar year. Given data source availability, for some indicators we needed to compare data from different years. As a rule we only go back as far as three years.


Scale and boundary issues

For a very small number of indicators, city level data was unavailable. In these cases we collected data from provincial sources. To normalize the data collected from this larger sample we took the total population of a given city as a percentage of the total population of the broader area, and then multiplied the data collected from the broader area against the percentage that the city represented.


Cohort issues

When data was not available for youth aged 15-29 we used a weighting system to allow us to use data from differently defined groups. For example, if population data was not available for youth aged 15 to 29 but was available for 15 to 24 years and 25 to 34 years, we used the 15 to 24 years data, and half of the total data from 25 to 34 years.


Hierarchy of data credibility

Primary and secondary data was collected from a number of sources. YouthfulCities collected primary data by talking to key sources in person, by email and by telephone. Secondary data collection was done largely through online research. Our sources include census reports, municipal offices and websites, non-governmental organizations, academic sources (e.g. journal articles, development indexes and reports) and other online sources (e.g. crowdsourcing sites like


Ranking the YouthfulCities Global Index data

Once all data is normalized, the cities in the YouthfulCities Canadian Index are ranked using a scoring system that takes the normalized data from each of the 121 indicators and translates every data point into weighted scores via the following:

• For each indicator we have decided if a high number or a low number is the most desirable for youth. For example:

• In the number of entrepreneurship incubators indicator, a higher number of entrepreneurship incubators wins; versus,

• In the youth unemployment indicator, a lower youth unemployment rate wins.

• Raw scores are then linearly scaled into points from 0 to 100 where the best score becomes 100 points and the worst score becomes 0 points:

• For high number indicators the highest number gains 100 points for that city.

• For low number indicators the lowest number gains 100 points for that city.

• Each city’s points are then translated into weighted scores based on the importance rankings determined for each urban attribute.

Importance rankings come from the 2014 Urban Attitudes Survey, which measured the average importance of the attributes for youth. Values listed are out of 10. Cities’ overall scores and rankings The overall index scores result from summing the average of the indicator scores across each Urban Attribute. For example, the Transit Attribute is made up of 8 indicators. Each city gets a score for each indicator in the Transit Attribute. The average of these 10 indicator scores makes up the Attribute score. All 20 Attribute scores are summed in order to determine a city’s overall score and rank.

Data input

While reliable, robust and defensible data is available for the overwhelming majority of our indicators across all 13 cities, in an extreme minority of cases (<2%) reliable data simply does not exist. Where data does not exist we take a national average in order to assign a score. Obtaining reliable and comparable data for the 13 cities is the most difficult part of the YouthfulCities Index process. We want to be as representative as possible in the data that we employ. If you feel you have a better way of measuring cities from a youth perspective, we want to hear from you!





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