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Social Exclusion of Youth in Europe: Cumulative Disadvantage, Coping Strategies, Effective Policies and Transfer

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EXCEPT (Social Exclusion of Youth in Europe: Cumulative Disadvantage, Coping Strategies, Effective Policies and Transfer)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2018-04-30

The unemployment rate and temporary employment among those in start of their working lives is much higher than for the rest of the population. The aim of this interdisciplinary and internationally comparative project was to provide a comprehensive understanding of the effect of labour market vulnerability on the risk of social exclusion of youth in Europe. In a mixed-method approach both objectives and subjective dimensions of social exclusion were investigated: poverty and material deprivation, subjective well-being and health as well as the ability to reach independence from the parental home. A multidimensional dynamic perspective was adopted in order to identify the causal relationships as well as risks of cumulative disadvantages and compensatory mechanisms. A central objective of this comparative project was to learn about examples of best practices and provide suggestions for policies and reforms that help to improve the life of young people who face labour market insecurities. A specific feature of this project was to listen to young people in vulnerable positions and to give them a voice in the research process and dissemination activities. By involving and addressing different stakeholder groups at all stages of the project, the dissemination of results were ensured.
Based on descriptive analysis of quantitative data from EU-28 and Ukraine, immediate consequences of unemployment are clearly negative lowering the well-being, health and autonomy of youth. The descriptive analyses reveal smaller or even no differences when comparing youth with permanent and temporary contracts. Thus, not having a job is the most substantial risk for social exclusion of youth. In the long run, experiencing unemployment as well as involuntary job loss during the early work career negatively affects health and well-being even more than 30 years later in life. The effect is considerably larger in magnitude for men than for women and if job loss occurred earlier compared to later in the work career. Further analyses reveal that the negative health consequences of unemployment, particularly in the case of men, extend beyond an unemployed young person and negatively affects also the health of the partner. Men’s unemployment deteriorates their female partners’ health most of all in conservative countries, with social norms supporting male breadwinner supremacy. These effects are also stronger in countries with stronger work ethics and countries with lower overall unemployment.
Moreover, the consequences of labour market vulnerability during the early work career were predicted for the living situation at old age. It was found that, nowadays, youths are well aware of the need for additional savings to ensure the decent living standard in their old age, but they are often unable to actually save. This is even more critical given that the generosity of public pensions is decreasing substantially. Particularly, negative long-term effects are expected in case of the experience of unemployment. Fixed-term jobs may also lead to socio-economic disadvantages in old age. This is because fixed-term contracts imply lower wage levels that have long-term negative consequences for public pension savings and restrict the opportunity to start investing into occupational or private plans. Even successful young people that are highly mobile in the labour market may experience social security deficits in old age because their high mobility will lead to a high number of fragmented pension rights that yield only little revenues.
Furthermore, 386 qualitative interviews were conducted with youths from nine selected European countries representing different welfare regimes. These interviews provided an in-depth understanding of how disadvantaged youths perceive their social situation and try to cope with it in differing economic, institutional and cultural environments. The Bulgarian, the Estonian, the Polish and the Ukrainian youths complained less about the lack of jobs than about “toxic” work and “harsh” working conditions of existing job offers decreasing their wellbeing and health. They all seemed to ask for stability and safety in the labour market along with better salaries in order to be able to afford everyday living. Youths in Greece and in Italy sounded hopeless and totally disappointed from their career prospects and future orientation in home country. In an environment of low unemployment in Germany, unemployed youths in Germany felt shame and self-blame as well as they reported experiences of social outrage and prejudice. In United Kingdom and Sweden, where unemployment rates of recent school leavers are on the decline, youths sounded more optimistic than the rest and asked for career opportunities that respond to their qualifications and dreams, as well as to a higher purpose in life.
Lastly, the diffusion and effectiveness of EU and national policies that address various issues of youth social exclusion were assessed based on multilevel analysis of comparative micro data and national reports from EU-28 and Ukraine. Based on the 29 national policy reports prepared by national experts a database of youth policies was created. Analysis indicates a universal shift from passive to active policies and strong empl
(1) The project’s first expected impact is to support formulating and implementing policies relevant for meeting the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy and the renewed European Youth Strategy. Presentations, face-to-face meetings and email correspondence was used (Meeting of Directors Youth General, EU-CoE coordinator Marta Medlinska, DG EAC Jakob Kornbeck, DG EMPL Max Uebe, Lucie Davoine, Pablo Cornide, DG EMPL Pension Unit Team leader Valdis Zagorskis etc)
(2) Close cooperation with youth, including involvement of the voice of youth more strongly in policy making and implementation. This included Graffiti Wall, Rant Box and focus groups, cafeteria meetings, photocomposition, bringing youth to European Parliament event Evidence matters etc and of course, close involvement of Youth Advisory Board and Youth Ambassadors.
(3) Supporting close collaboration, networking and mobility among researchers.
(4) Inclusion of the relevant communities, stakeholders, and practitioners in the research activities.
(5) Provision of input and resources for mutual learning between Member States and Associated Countries with regard to the design of relevant policies and programmes.