Did you ever find yourself musing over the (un)fairness of capitalism? Did you ever feel “the system” is against you? You are not alone. In fact, you are very much in this together with many people from across the planet, especially in recent months.

With inflation hitting record highs month after month, supply chain disruptions following the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, as well as a seemingly unprecedented degree of geopolitical uncertainty, the economic system we are used to is put to a serious litmus test. While facts and data underpin economic downturns across continents, the impact varies widely from one region to another. The cost-of-living crisis that many in what is commonly called the ‘Global North’ suffer from cannot quite compare with the fundamental impact of food shortages, among other things, in the geographically much larger part of our planet, the so-called ‘Global South’.

At Debating Europe, we learnt – not least through recent focus group discussions – that citizens’ perceptions don’t only matter greatly, but that they tend to diverge from those of decision-makers. In line with our strategic objectives to revitalize democracy and foster a new kind of leadership, we therefore took the chance to speak to a diverse group of young people from all over the world, hoping to understand their view of the world’s economy and how to address its flaws.

In early October, we met a group of 20 young international students for a series of in-person mini focus groups, discussing the current economic world order. Through a set of questions, the participants – originating from 14 different countries spread over four continents – critically assessed the current state of world economics and international development cooperation, suggesting changes in thinking and acting for both leaders and citizens. This report summarizes their perspectives.

Download the report as a PDF here.


Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s)only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.