Landmark poll shows Nigerian children feel under most pressure to succeed globally

18 November 2021
Two girls sitting down in a children's centre

ABUJA, 18 November 2021 – Nigerian children and young people feel under the most pressure to succeed globally, according to a new international survey by UNICEF and Gallup, released ahead of World Children’s Day, marked annually on 20 November.

Data from the survey reveals that young people in Nigeria are facing a mental health challenge, with 1 in 6 young Nigerians aged 15 -24 saying they often feel depressed, have little interest in doing things, or are worried, nervous or anxious.

As much as 85 per cent say they feel a greater pressure to succeed than their elders – the highest of all 21 countries surveyed, with young people in Lebanon a close second.

The poll, The Changing Childhood Project, is the first of its kind to ask multiple generations for their views on what it is like to be a child today. It surveyed more than 21,000 people in 21 countries, including Nigeria. Nationally representative surveys were undertaken in countries across all regions – Africa, Asia, Europe, and North and South America – and income levels, across two age cohorts (15-24 years old and 40 years old and up).

The survey – conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic - examines young people’s opinions about their mental health, worldview, trust in institutions, importance of equality, climate change, and digital benefits and risks, among others.

Findings from the survey also show that young Nigerians are more concerned than young people in any other country surveyed about personal information being collected and shared online, at 72 per cent. The next highest are young people in Indonesia, at 63 per cent, and Kenya, at 54 per cent.  

Children and young people in Nigeria also show high levels of concern about the risks of meeting someone in person after meeting them online, at 84 per cent, slightly higher than children in the United States (81 per cent) and Brazil (82 per cent).

In the area of finances, young Nigerians again showed a high level of concern, with 74 per cent of females and 66 per cent of males worried they don’t have enough money for food.

“Children and young people in Nigeria clearly have a high level of concern about many and varied issues, compared to their peers in other countries,” said UNICEF Nigeria Representative Peter Hawkins. “We cannot bury our heads in the sand and hope these concerns will go away – we need to take action. And the first step is to solicit their views, really listen closely and allow their concerns and ideas to influence our policy decisions.

“The future of Nigeria belongs to its children and young people – they have the right to be heard, have their needs addressed and their solutions explored. It is only through commitment to understanding and investing more in our children and young people’s presents and futures that we can maximize every child’s potential and ensure they have a full and happy life.”

The poll also shows a gender disparity in the views of young people in Nigeria:

  • Girls are 26 per cent less likely to trust the police than boys
  • Girls are 10 per cent more likely to think it is equally important for both boys and girls to learn how to understand personal finances
  • Boys are 28 per cent more likely than girls to think it is acceptable for a parent to physically punish a child.
  • Boys are four percent more likely to think it is very important to treat females equally.

Despite these challenges and gender divides, young Nigerians are optimistic about their future.

Compared to their elders, they believe children and young people today receive better quality healthcare, education and access to clean water than their parents did. Almost 70 per cent of males and 80 per cent of females also believe they will be economically better off than their parents. 

Young Nigerians also agree that the minimum age for marriage for both boys and girls should be 25, expressing a desire for more time to enjoy their independence before adulthood.

Critically, Nigerians have one of the highest rates young and older generations believing it is very important for politicians to listen to children’s voices when making decisions, at 87 per cent.

“We cannot know what is on the minds of young people if we do not ask them. UNICEF's survey reinforces the importance of hearing from the next generation and understanding their perspectives,” said Joe Daly, Senior Partner at Gallup. “The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow; it is crucial for older generations to do their part to ensure our children inherit a better world.”

“This is a clarion call from young people in Nigeria,” said Peter Hawkins. “A call to listen, to learn and to take action to lift Nigeria high. As we celebrate this World Children’s Day, it is critical we listen to young people directly about their well-being – both physical and mental - and their aspirations in this changing world.”



Notes to Editors 

  • Alongside the release of the survey, UNICEF is launching a new interactive platform,, containing the full set of data from the survey and the project report. 


  • The Changing Childhood Project is the first survey to ask multiple generations of people across the world for their views on what it’s like to be a child today. For the project, UNICEF partnered with Gallup to survey more than 21,000 adults and children in 21 countries between February and June 2021. All samples are probability-based and nationally representative of two distinct populations in each country: people aged 15-24 and people aged 40 and older. The coverage area is the entire country, including rural areas, and the sampling frame represents the entire civilian, non-institutionalized, population within each age cohort with access to a telephone.


The countries surveyed are: Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Spain, United Kingdom, Ukraine, USA and Zimbabwe. 


  • World Children’s Day – celebrated every year on 20 November – raises awareness for the millions of children that are denied their right to adequate health care, nutrition, education and protection, and elevates young people’s voices as critical to any discussions about their future.


  • Generation Unlimited Nigeria brings together stakeholders across government, multilateral organizations, the private sector, NGOs, community leadership and young people themselves and aims to reach 20 million young people with skills training, employment, entrepreneurship and social impact opportunities by 2030.

Media contacts

Geoffrey Njoku
Communication Specialist
UNICEF Nigeria
Tel: +234 803 525 0288


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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About Gallup 

Gallup delivers analytics and advice to help leaders and organizations solve their most pressing problems. Combining more than 80 years of experience with its global reach, Gallup knows more about the attitudes and behaviors of employees, customers, students and citizens than any other organization in the world.