Young people - migration and socioeconomic situation
Data extracted in December 2019.
Planned article update: December 2020.
In 2018, more foreign-born young people aged 15-29 years (19 %) in the EU were not in employment, education or training than native-born young people (12 %).
Fewer foreign-born young employees in the EU aged 15-29 years who were born in other EU countries were in temporary employment (26 %) in 2018 than young native-born people (32 %) and young people born outside the EU (39 %).
25% of young native-born people, 33% of young migrants born in other EU Member States and 44% of young migrants born outside the EU had the risk of being in poverty or socially excluded in 2018.
Proportion of young employees (aged 15-29 years) in temporary employment, EU-28, 2008-2018
Member States of the European Union (EU) have traditionally been a destination for migrants, whether from elsewhere within the EU or from elsewhere in the world. The flow of migrants has led to a range of skills and talents introduced into local economies, while also increasing cultural diversity.
This article presents information on the current socioeconomic status of young persons with an analysis according to their country of birth: the article presents information for young people who are native-born and for those who are foreign-born, with the latter analysed in more detail between those born in other EU Member States (in other words, EU-born except the reporting Member State) and those born outside the EU (in other words, non-EU-born). The indicators presented are based on Zaragoza indicators  in the area on education, employment and social inclusion. The age coverage of education and employment indicators is 15-29 years, of social inclusion indicators is 16-29 years. In the case of the indicator on early leavers from education and training the standard of 18-24 years is applied.
Young people not in employment, education or training
The indicator of young people not in employment, education or training corresponds to the proportion of the population aged 15-29 years who were not employed and not involved in further education or training. Between 2008 and 2013, the proportion of all young people (aged 15-29 years) not in employment, education or training in the EU-28 increased from 13.1 % to reach 15.9 %. Subsequently it declined by a similar amount to reach 12.9 % in 2018.
The various groups shown in Figure 1 all recorded increases in the proportion of young people who were not in employment, education or training between 2008 and 2013. In percentage point terms, the largest increases were observed for young people born outside of the EU, where the proportion of those not in employment, education or training increased from 22.0 % in 2008 to 26.9 % in 2013. The smallest increase was observed for young native-born, as their proportion rose from 12.2 % in 2008 to 15.0 % in 2013.
Between 2013 and 2018, all groups recorded decreases, with the exception of a slight increase for young non-EU born between 2015 and 2016. The decline was strongest for young people born in other EU Member States, down from a peak of 20.9 % in 2013 to 14.7 % in 2018. As such, a smaller proportion of young people born in other EU Member States were not in employment, education or training in 2018 than in 2008 (down 2.9 percentage points), whereas for young native-born the rate was almost the same (a difference of 0.1 percentage points) in both years and for young non-EU-born the proportion was 0.5 percentage points lower at the end of the period under consideration.
Throughout the period observed a higher proportion of young migrants were not in employment, education or training than was the case for young native-born people. Furthermore, a consistently higher proportion of young migrants born outside the EU were not in employment, education or training than those born in other EU Member States. In 2018, the differences between these groups were 2.6 percentage points between the proportions for young native-born and young people born in other EU Member States and 6.8 percentage points between the proportions for young people born in other EU Member States and those born outside the EU.
Considering the young foreign-born population as a whole, the highest shares who were not in employment, education or training in 2018 were found in Greece (35.9 %) and Italy (33.7 %). By contrast, the lowest shares (below 10 %) of young foreign-born who were not in employment, education or training were observed in Hungary (9.5 %) and Malta (9.1 %) (subject to data availability — see Table 1).
Early leavers from education and training
Early leavers from education and training are defined as people aged 18-24 years having attained at most lower secondary education and not involved in further education or training. Table 2 shows that in 2018 the proportion of young foreign-born people in this situation was much higher than for young native-born both for the EU-28 as a whole as well as for the vast majority of the EU Member States. For the EU-28, in 2018 nearly one fifth (9.5 %) of young native-born were early leavers, while for young foreign-born the share was more than twice as high (20.2 %). Among the 19 Member States for which data are available there were only four — Denmark, Ireland, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom — where the share of early leavers was lower for young foreign-born than it was for young native-born. The largest differences were recorded in Italy and Spain: the share of early leavers among young foreign-born people in Italy was 23.2 percentage points higher than the share among young people born in Italy, while in Spain the difference was 17.1 percentage points. Germany, Greece, Belgium, Austria and Sweden also reported differences of more than 10.0 percentage points.
In the EU-28, the proportion of early leavers from education and training who were employed decreased between 2008 and 2018 for all groups of young people, regardless of their place of birth — see Figure 2 — although slight increases were recorded between 2016 and 2018. Between 2008 and 2015 the largest decrease in percentage point terms was for non-EU-born young people. The largest increase in 2018 in the proportion of employed early leavers was clearly recorded for young people born in other EU Member States.
The proportion of early leavers from education and training who were not employed (therefore either unemployed or economically inactive) followed a different development to that observed among early leavers who were employed (compare the developments in Figures 2 and 3). Initially the proportion increased for all groups of young people, most notably for young foreign-born: the share of not employed early leavers increased between 2008 and 2009 and remained high until 2012 or 2013. Between 2012 and 2018, all groups recorded decreases, with the strongest decline observed for young people born outside the EU (from 16.0 % in 2012 to 11.8 % in 2018).
Youth employment rate
In 2018, for the EU-28 as a whole, the employment rate of young foreign-born women (aged 15-29 years) was lower (44.3 %) than for young native-born women (47.0 %). The employment rate of young women born outside the EU was just 39.4 % in contrast to a 54.3 % rate observed for young women born in other EU Member States; as such, the employment rate for the latter group was even higher than that for young native-born women.
For young men a similar pattern was observed, with the highest employment rate for migrants born in other EU Member States (64.1 %) and the lowest rate for those born outside of the EU (51.3 %), with the rate for young native-born men (52.4 %) between these two rates. One difference however was that the overall employment rate for all young foreign-born men (55.3 %) was higher than the rate for young native-born men, whereas the reverse was observed for young women.
Across the EU Member States, the highest employment rates in 2018 for young foreign-born men were found in Estonia (77.3 %; low reliability), Czechia (74.4 %), Malta (72.4 %) and Croatia (70.0 %), while the lowest rates were recorded in Finland (48.7 %), Italy (48.6 %), France (46.8 %), Spain (46.3 %) and Belgium (45.7 %). The highest employment rates for young foreign-born women were observed in Malta (75.1 %) and Estonia (66.2 %; low reliability) and the lowest in Finland (39.8 %), Belgium (36.1 %), Hungary (35.7 %; low reliability), France (35.0 %), Italy (29.5 %) and Greece (28.3 %).
Considering age, in 2018 people across the EU-28 aged 25-29 years had the highest employment rates among all young people, regardless of their place of birth. In all three age groups of young people (see Figure 4), the highest employment rate was for migrants born in other EU Member States and the lowest for migrants born outside the EU.
Part-time and temporary employment of young people
Temporary and part-time employment can be considered either as an opportunity for labour market participation or as a trap into underemployment. Figure 5 indicates that among all young employees (aged 15-29 years) in the EU-28, those non-EU-born consistently had the highest rates of temporary employment between 2008 and 2018, followed by young native-born. Migrants born in other EU Member States had the lowest rates of temporary employment between 2008 and 2018. While this basic pattern was maintained throughout the period shown in Figure 5, the differences between observed subpopulations with respect to their share of temporary employment varied over time. At the beginning of the period (in 2008), the share of temporary employment among employees native-born (29.8 %) was above that of migrants from other EU Member States (26.6 %), a difference of 3.2 percentage points; this gap widened over the next 9 years to peak at 9.2 percentage points in 2016 and stood at 6.0 percentage points in 2018. By contrast, the difference in temporary employment rates between young native-born and non-EU-born narrowed from 6.0 percentage points in 2008 to almost nothing in 2013 before expanding again to reach 6.7 percentage points in 2018.
In 2018, the EU Member States with the highest rates of temporary employment among the native-born employees were Spain (56.1 %), Portugal (51.6 %) and Italy (50.6 %), while the lowest rates were recorded in Lithuania (4.0 %), Latvia (3.4 %) and Romania (2.7 %). In the Member States with low rates of temporary employment among the young native-born employees, temporary employment rates among young foreign-born were often below the reliability threshold to be presented (see Table 4). Among those Member States for which data are available, the highest temporary employment rate among young foreign-born was 71.1 %, observed in Poland, with Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands also observing rates above 50.0 % for this subpopulation.
In 2018, young migrants born outside the EU recorded the highest shares of part-time employment (29.1 %), ahead of young native-born (23.0 %) and young migrants born in other EU Member States (21.4 %).
Comparing the shares in 2018 with 2008, the largest increase in part-time employment across the EU-28 was observed for young employed migrants born outside the EU (up 5.3 percentage points), followed by young native-born population (up 4.2 percentage points), while the smallest increase was for the young migrants born in the other EU Member States (up 3.3 percentage points).
Unemployment rate among young people
Labour market disadvantages for some young migrants are also visible when unemployment rates are analysed. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the unemployment rate only concerns those young people who are already in the labour market: particularly among the youngest age group (those aged 15-19 years), many are still studying in school or higher education.
During the global financial and economic crisis and subsequent sovereign debt crisis, unemployment rates for young people (aged 15-29 years) increased in the EU-28, peaking in 2013 before subsequently declining. For all young people together, the unemployment rate in the EU-28 rose from 12.1 % in 2008 to a peak of 18.9 % in 2013 before falling back to 12.0 % in 2018. As such, the rate in 2018 was almost identical as the rate observed in 2008.
Looking at the observed subpopulations, the EU-28 unemployment rate for young non-EU-born people was higher than for other young people throughout the period shown in Figure 7, while the rates for young native-born and young migrants born in other EU Member States were broadly similar to each other. Not only were the rates higher for young migrants born outside the EU, the unemployment rate for this subpopulation grew more rapidly between 2008 and 2013 (up 14.4 percentage points) than it did for young migrants born in other EU Member States (8.0 percentage points) and young native-born (6.6 percentage points). By 2018, the unemployment rates for young native-born and young migrants born in other EU Member States had returned to their levels observed in 2008, while for young migrants born outside the EU the unemployment rate in 2018 was 1.7 percentage points higher than it had been in 2008.
Figure 8 shows that young people in the EU-28 labour market aged less than 20 years were much more likely to face unemployment than either of the other age groups of young people; this pattern was observed for native-born and both groups of foreign-born persons. Equally, for all three age groups, young people born outside the EU were most likely to be unemployed. The lowest EU-28 unemployment rates among people aged 15-19 years and those aged 20-24 years were for native-born (18.4 % and 13.4 % respectively), whereas for those aged 25-29 years, the lowest unemployment rate was for migrants born in other EU Member States (7.7 %).
Focusing on the gender dimension of youth unemployment among native-born and foreign-born people, Table 5 provides a detailed review of the situation. For the EU-28 as a whole, among young native-born (aged 15-29 years), men had a higher unemployment rate (11.7 %) than women (11.3 %) in 2018. The same pattern was observed for young men (11.3 %) and young women (10.7 %) born in other EU Member States. Among young persons born outside the EU the reverse was true as young women faced higher unemployment rates (19.1 %) than young men (18.0 %).
Care has to be taken with the data presented in Table 5, particularly the detailed data by gender or migrants’ country of birth, as some values are of low reliability (due to the sample size). In 14 of the 20 Member States for which data can be compared, unemployment rates for young people were higher for foreign-born than for native-born, with the largest difference of 13.6 percentage points observed in Sweden. The unemployment rate for young native-born was higher than for their foreign-born peers in Cyprus (5.7 percentage points difference), Croatia (5.4 percentage points; low reliability), Italy (1.2 percentage points), Czechia and Malta (both 0.9 percentage points; low reliability). In Portugal the rates were identical.
Greece had the highest unemployment rate for young foreign-born people (33.1 %) in 2018 among the 20 EU Member States for which data are available. The lowest unemployment rates for young foreign-born were in Malta (4.7 %; low reliability) and Czechia (3.5 %; low reliability).
At-risk-of-poverty or exclusion rate for young people
The indicator concerning at risk of poverty or social exclusion is a composite measure with three subcomponents: the at-risk-of-poverty rate, material deprivation and households with very low work intensity. The at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate measures the number of persons who are in at least one of the three situations as a proportion of the total population. These factors related with the risk of poverty or social exclusion vary among young people depending on their country of birth.
Figure 9 shows the development of the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate for young people (aged 16-29 years) in the EU-28: note that, because of data availability, the time series starts in 2010 rather than 2008 used elsewhere in this article. Young migrants born outside the EU had the highest at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate of 44.3 % (low reliability) in 2018. By contrast, the rate observed for young migrants born in other EU Member States was 33.0 % (low reliability) and one quarter (24.9 %) for young native-born people. The rate for young migrants born outside the EU increased from 2010 to 2011, decreased in 2011 and remained stable to 2014 before declining gently thereafter; for young native-born the rate increased until 2012, also remained stable to 2014 and then started declining. In 2018, the rate for young migrants born outside the EU was 1.8 percentage points lower than it had been in 2010, while for young native-born the rate was 0.9 percentage points lower. The gap between these rates for young native-born and young migrants born outside the EU narrowed from 20.3 percentage points in 2010 to 19.4 percentage points in 2018.
As shown in Table 6, in several EU Member States the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate for all young foreign-born people exceeded 50.0 % in 2018, namely in Denmark (58.4 %), Spain (55.7 %), Greece (53.0 %) and France (50.2 %). In all four of these Member States the rate for young migrants born outside the EU was also over 50.0 %, as was also the case in Sweden, the Netherlands and Belgium. Among young people born in other EU Member States, only in Spain (59.6 %)a and Denmark (58.7 %; low reliability) were more than half at risk of poverty or social exclusion. By way of comparison, the highest share of young native-born at risk of poverty or social exclusion was recorded in Greece (39.0 %).
At-risk-of-poverty rate for young people
The at-risk-of-poverty rate measures poverty in relative terms. It takes a relative poverty threshold of 60 % of the net median equivalised income, and defines as being at risk of poverty the part of the population below this threshold. Figure 10 illustrates the gap between the young native-born and foreign-born populations (aged 16-29 years) in the EU-28 with respect to their risk-of-poverty: again, data are only available from 2010. The at-risk-of-poverty rates for young foreign-born were higher than for young native-born for all the available years: the gap was 15.3 percentage points in 2010, increased to 17.3 percentage points in 2011, narrowed to 14.0 percentage points in 2016 and widened in 2018 to 15.6 percentage points. In 2018, 19.1 % of young native-born were at risk of poverty in the EU-28, while the rate for young foreign-born was nearly twice as high, at 34.7 % (low reliability). Among young migrants born outside the EU, the rate was higher (37.4 %; low reliability), whereas for young migrants born in other Member States the rate was lower (28.9 %; low reliability), but not as low as for their young native-born peers.
Among the EU Member States, in 2018 the highest at-risk-of-poverty rates for young foreign-born people were in Spain (51.2 %) and Denmark (50.6 %): the rate was below 50.0 % in all other Member States for which data are available. Among the 23 Member States for which data are available for both young foreign-born and young native-born people, the at-risk-of-poverty rate for the latter group was consistently lower, except in Estonia and Latvia where the rates for young native-born were higher (4.2 and 0.8 percentage points respectively).
Among the 20 Member States for which data are available for young migrants born in other Member States as well as for young migrants born outside the EU, the at-risk-of-poverty rate for the latter group was higher in 13 Member States, while in seven the reverse situation was observed. It should be noted that some of the data are of low reliability and small differences in values between the different subpopulations of young people may not be significant.
Severe material deprivation rate of young people
The severe material deprivation rate is an absolute measure of poverty which captures differences in living standards between countries. In 2018, by far the highest severe material deprivation rate for young foreign-born people (aged 16-29 years) was observed in Greece (36.5 %), followed by Cyprus (21.0 %), Portugal (16.6 %), Spain (16.2 %) and Italy (16.1 %).
As can be seen from Table 8, young foreign-born faced higher rates of severe material deprivation in the EU-28 than their native-born peers in 2018 (11.3 % compared with 6.4 %). Among the 23 EU Member States for which data are available for both young foreign-born and young native-born, the severe material deprivation rate for the latter group was lower except in Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Malta.
Young people living in households with very low work intensity
People living in households with very low work intensity are those living in households where the adults have worked less than 20 % of their total work potential during the past year. For the calculation of the household average, students aged less than 25 years and those in full-time education or training are excluded. Furthermore, households consisting solely of students are omitted entirely. Work intensity in a household is affected by the structure, the composition and the size of the household.
The share of young people (aged 16-29 years) living in households with very low work intensity is shown in Table 9. In 2018 the share for young native-born persons was 9.5 % in the EU-28, compared with 12.4 % for young foreign-born; for young migrants born outside the EU the share was 13.5 %.
The highest shares of young foreign-born persons living in households with very low work intensity were reported in Denmark (27.3 %), Sweden and the Netherlands (both 25.4 %). By contrast, Czechia (1.6 %) , Slovenia (2.0 %) and Estonia (4.9 %; low reliability) reported the lowest shares in 2018.
Among the 22 Member States for which data are available for young foreign-born and young native-born, the share of young people living in households with very low work intensity was higher for foreign-born than for native-born in 13 Member States (with the largest percentage points difference observed in Sweden, 16.3); in nine Member States the reverse was true (with the largest percentage points difference observed in Italy, 9.9).
Looking at the two subpopulations of young migrants, in 13 of the 20 EU Member States for which data are available there were higher shares of young people living in households with very low work intensity among those born outside the EU than among those born in other Member States. By far the largest differences were observed in France (29.1 percentage points) and Finland (24.6 percentage points). By contrast, lower shares for young people born outside the EU than for those born in other Member States were reported by seven countries, with the largest difference observed in Germany (15.5 percentage points). Again it should be noted that some of the data are of low reliability and small differences in values between the different subpopulations of young people may not be significant.
Source data for tables and graphs
This article uses labour force survey data and statistics on income and living conditions to examine the socioeconomic situation of young migrants. These two data sources are the most important official micro databases for comparative social and economic research into the situation of young people.
Labour force survey
The EU labour force survey provides population estimates for the main labour market characteristics, such as employment, unemployment, economic inactivity, hours of work, occupation, economic sector of activity and other labour-related variables, as well as important sociodemographic characteristics, such as sex, age, highest level of educational attainment, household characteristics and region of residence. The definitions of employment and unemployment, as well as other survey characteristics, follow the definitions and recommendations of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The definition of unemployment is further detailed in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1897/2000.
Statistics on income and living conditions
Statistics on income and living conditions are the main European source of information for information relating to income, living conditions and social inclusion. The legal basis for these data is framework Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003. The reference population is all private households and their current members residing in the territory of an EU Member State at the time of data collection. Persons living in collective households and in institutions are generally excluded from the target population. The EU-28 aggregate is a population-weighted average of individual national figures.
The indicators presented in this article reflect the standards commonly used for migrant integration indicators. In particular the age groups used may not be same as those normally used for social inclusion statistics.
The indicators presented in this article, are based on the Council conclusions on integration of 2010, the subsequent study Indicators of immigrant integration — a pilot study (2011) and the report Using EU indicators of immigrant integration (2013) .
There is a strong link between integration and migration policies, since successful integration is often seen as a prerequisite for maximising the economic and social benefits of immigration for individuals as well as societies. EU legislation provides a common legal framework regarding the conditions of entry and stay and a common set of rights for certain categories of migrants.
EU policy covers the fight against poverty and social exclusion among society’s vulnerable groups with the goal of active social inclusion and in accordance with the integration of migrants. The active inclusion strategy of the EU also includes ensuring a decent standard of living for young migrants in the labour market. By means of the open method of coordination, EU Member States are encouraged to design, promote and implement an integrated comprehensive strategy for the active inclusion of young persons.
Theme entry page
- Youth (yth), see:
- Youth employment (yth_empl)
- Educational attainment and outcomes of education (educ_outc)
- Transition from education to work (edatt)
- Young people by educational and labour status (incl. neither in employment nor in education and training - NEET) (edatt0)
- Early leavers from education and training (edatt1)
- Transition from education to work (edatt)
- People at risk of poverty or social exclusion (Europe 2020 strategy) (ilc_pe)
- Main indicator - Europe 2020 target on poverty and social exclusion (ilc_peps)
- Income distribution and monetary poverty (ilc_ip)
- Monetary poverty (ilc_li)
- Living conditions (ilc_lv)
- Health and labour conditions (ilc_lvhl)
- Material deprivation (ilc_md)
- Material deprivation by dimension (ilc_mddd)
- People at risk of poverty or social exclusion (Europe 2020 strategy) (ilc_pe)
- A set of common indicators agreed by EU Member States in the Zaragoza Declaration in 2010.
- See the subset of the proposed indicators in the report.