Among the risk cases in the 2014 Global Risks report, "Generation Lost?" examines the challenges facing the so-called millennials, those young people born roughly between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the millennium. This analysis has been provided by a team of experts from my company, Swiss Re. As a parent, let me say straightaway that this subject interests me intensely.
(Read more: Recovery talk ignores jobs crisis: Davos delegates)
Paul Bradbury | OJO Images
Any examination of this topic is tricky, since it will tend to contain observations based on anecdotal as well as empirical data. Then there is the thorny problem of drawing conclusions that will apply both to millennials in the developed world and those in developing countries. The expectations of 18-year-olds in sub-Saharan Africa are unlikely to bear any resemblance to their counterparts, say, in Western Europe. In other words, there is no one youth in the world.
All that said, this analysis prompts us to ask the right questions about the kind of far-sighted policies that need to be adopted in order to offset some of the problems facing our young people today.
The Swiss Re analysis draws attention to how chronic unemployment across many countries is preventing young people's efforts "to earn income, generate savings, gain professional experience and build professional careers. Traditional higher education is ever more expensive and its payoff more doubtful." These are clearly issues that cry out for attention if we are to avert "the risks of a breakdown in social cohesion and enduring loss of human and economic potential."