Young people - migration and socioeconomic situation
- Data extracted in December 2014. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: November 2018.
Migration is changing Europe and lies at the core of many debates in the context of globalisation, EU enlargement and the demographic and economic changes which the European Union is facing. Young people are a particularly vulnerable and over-represented group among migrants. This article analysis the current socioeconomic status of young persons examined by their country of birth through existing Zaragoza indicators  on social inclusion together with some proposed new ones on education, employment and social inclusion of young people by country of birth.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 1.1 Education
- 1.2 Employment
- 1.3 Social inclusion
- 1.3.1 Young people’s at-risk-of-poverty or exclusion rate by country of birth
- 1.3.2 Young people’s at-risk-of-poverty rate by country of birth
- 1.3.3 Severe material deprivation rate of young people by country of birth
- 1.3.4 Young people living in households with very low work intensity by country of birth
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
- 6 External links
- 7 Notes
Main statistical findings
Educational attainment by country of birth
Education is the cornerstone of social integration especially for young non-EU migrants. Reaching high levels of educational attainment leads to a greater potential for the employment and social inclusion of individuals, since they acquire basic skills and integrate the common values of the society they live in.
NEET by country of birth
The indicator of young people neither in employment nor in education and training (NEET) corresponds to the percentage of the population aged 15–29 who are not employed and not involved in further education or training.
Over a seven-year period, from 2007 to 2013 (see Figure 1), the proportion of young people NEET in the EU-28 increased significantly. On average, the share of EU-born young people NEET in 2013 was 4.8 pp higher than the share in 2007. Young migrants recorded even higher rate increases than non-migrants, with NEET rates increasing by 2.6 pp for young non-migrants from 2007, and by 5.6 pp for young people born in a non-EU country. Furthermore, there was a considerable gap among young people by country of birth which increased through time: in 2007 the difference in NEET rates between migrant and non-migrant young people was 7.4 pp but in 2013 it had reached 10.0 pp.
As can be seen in Table 1, the reliability of data for the non-EU-born and EU-born foreign population is often low, mainly due to the small sample size of the reference population. However, taking into account the foreign-born population as a whole, the highest shares of young migrants NEET in 2013 were found in Greece (43.8 %), Croatia (37.0 %), Italy (35.7 %) and Slovenia (31.0 %). In contrast, Denmark (10.5 %), Luxembourg (10.7 %), Sweden (12.2 %), the Czech Republic (12.6 %) and the Netherlands (15.6 %) observed the lowest shares of young migrants NEET.
Early leavers from education and training by country of birth
Early leavers from education and training are defined as the percentage of the population aged 18–24 having attained at most lower secondary education and not involved in further education or training. Table 2 shows that in 2013 the proportion of young foreign-born people in this situation was much higher than for the native-born population both at EU-28 and Member State level: 11.0 % of the native-born population left school after reaching lower secondary education while the proportion for the foreign-born population was more than double (22.6 %). At country level, the most significant differences were recorded in the Mediterranean countries. The rates of foreign-born early leavers in Greece, Italy, Spain and Cyprus were significantly higher than those of the native-born (28.2 pp difference in Greece, 19.6 pp in Italy, 17.7 pp in Spain, 12.9 pp in Slovenia, 12.8 pp in Austria,12.2 pp in Belgium and 9.2 pp in Cyprus).
The proportion of employed early leavers decreased substantially from 2007 to 2013 for all groups of young people by country of birth, while at the same time the percentage of unemployed early leavers increased, although not by the rate (see Figures 2 and 3).
The proportion of foreign-born employed early school leavers decreased by 7.5 pp in 2013 compared with 2007, while the decrease for the native-born population was 3.3 pp. Unemployed early school leavers increased marginally among the native-born population (0.4 pp); but more significantly among the non-EU-born migrant population (2.7 pp). This results in an increasing risk of social exclusion and poverty for young people and young migrants in particular.
Youth employment rate by country of birth
Employment is one of the main incentives for young people wanting to migrate. It is also an essential catalyst for well-being and social inclusion. However, data indicate that employment objectives are not being met for non-EU-born migrants and the female foreign population (see Table 3).
In 2013, the employment rate of foreign-born young females in the EU-28 (40.8 %) was lower than for their male counterparts (51.2 %) and for native-born young females (43.4 %). In particular, the employment rate of non-EU-born females was only 33.3 %, in contrast with EU-born female migrants for whom the employment rate was significantly higher at 50.2 %. This rate was even higher than that for young females with non-migrant backgrounds (43.4 %).
Across the EU Member States, the highest employment rates for the foreign-born male population were found in the Czech Republic (68.6 %), Austria (64.7 %), Estonia and Germany (both 64.0 %), while the lowest rates were recorded in Spain (33.5 %), Greece (37.5 %) and Portugal (39.9 %). However, in these three countries the rates were higher than the corresponding ones for native-born young males. The lowest employment rates for non-EU-born migrant females can be observed in Italy (26.1 %), Belgium (24.5 %), Slovenia (24.1 %) and Greece (22.2 %), and the highest in Cyprus (62.3 %), Malta (58.8 %), the Netherlands (47.1 %) and Austria (46.7%).
Considering both age and country of birth, young people aged 25–29 born in a EU Member State had the highest employment rates on average among the young population (see Figure 4).
Young temporary employees as a percentage of the total number of employees by country of birth
Temporary and part-time employment can be considered either as a chance for labour participation or as a trap into underemployment. Figure 5 indicates that among all young people, those born in a non-EU country consistently had the highest rates of temporary employment over seven years (from 36.1 % in 2007 to 31.7 % in 2013), followed by non-migrant young people. Intra-EU young migrants had the lowest rates of temporary employment (from 29.2 % in 2007 to 24.2 % in 2013).
The EU Member States with the highest rates of temporary employment among the non-migrant young population were Poland (50.6 %), Spain (49.3 %), Slovenia (48.7 %), Portugal (48.0 %), the Netherlands (43.9 %) and Sweden (41.7 %), while the lowest rates were recorded in Romania (3.6 %), Lithuania (5.0 %), Latvia (6.3 %), Estonia (7.7 %) and Bulgaria (9.7 %). In those countries with high rates of temporary employment among the young non-migrant population, the rates for foreign-born young people were similar or higher, while in those countries with low temporary employment rates among young non-migrants the rates for the foreign population were below the reliability threshold to be presented (see Table 4).
In contrast to temporary employment, part-time employment in the EU-28 increased significantly among young people from 2007 to 2013. Non-EU-born migrants recorded the highest shares of part-time employment (31.7 %) compared with any other group of young population by country of birth: the native-born population (22.9 %), EU-born migrants (24.7 %) and the total foreign population (28.4 %). Furthermore, non-EU-born young migrants also faced the highest increase in part-time employment during these years (8.9 pp), followed by EU-born young migrants (8.4 pp) and the native-born population (4.3 pp).
Youth unemployment rate by country of birth
Labour market disadvantages for foreign-born young people are more visible when unemployment rates are analysed. Figure 7 provides data on the evolution of youth unemployment by groups of country of birth for the years 2007–13 at EU-28 level. Unemployment rates have significantly increased during that period for the young population as a whole (about 10.0 pp in average), however the increase was more substantial for the non-EU-born young population (15.5 pp).
Nevertheless, one should bear in mind that the unemployment indicator only covers those young people who are already on the labour market. In addition, as for other indicators, the levels of reliability are close to or below the minimum thresholds due to the small sample sizes, suggesting the need for great caution when analysing the data.
Figure 8 shows that young people below 20 years old were much more affected by unemployment regardless of their country of birth, possibly due to limited education and professional skills at that age restricting their opportunities within the labour market. However, non-EU-born teenagers were much more affected by unemployment (almost 60 %) than non-migrants of the same age (less than 30 %).
Focusing on the gender dimension of youth unemployment, Table 5 provides a detailed review of the situation in the EU Member States. On average in the EU-28, non-EU-born females were much more affected by unemployment than any other group, with a rate reaching 31.7 % in 2013. This was a difference of 13.4 pp compared with the total young non-migrant population in the EU (18.3 %), of 12.0 pp compared with EU-born migrant females (19.7 %) and of 14.0 pp compared with non-migrant females (17.7 %).
However, at country level data reliability makes it difficult to draw safe conclusions in most cases. In 2013, Greece (48.6 %) reported the highest share of total youth non-migrant unemployment, followed by Spain (41.4 %), Croatia (33.5 %), Cyprus (29.8 %) and Italy (29.7 %). The highest rates for female non-EU-born migrants were observed in Greece (52.4 %), Slovenia (49.3 %), Spain (46.8 %), Croatia (42.9 %) and Italy (35.0 %).
Germany, Malta and Luxembourg reported the lowest youth unemployment rates (all below 10.0 %) in 2013, and the rates for females were lower than those for males. As for the unemployment of the foreign-born young population by gender, there are in general not enough reliable data to comment on these top ranking countries. Germany is the only exception, with the unemployment rate for the young foreign population higher by almost 2.0 pp than for the young native-born population.
Young people’s at-risk-of-poverty or exclusion rate by country of birth
The indicator at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion (AROPE) is a composite measure with three sub-components: the at-risk-of-poverty rate, material deprivation and households with very low work intensity. It 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 exclusion vary among young people by country of birth. For instance, there are greater possibilities for the young native-born population to live with their parents in contrast with young migrants who live alone, leading to differences between these two groups with respect to their exposure to risk-at-poverty, material deprivation and work intensity within the household.
Figure 9 shows the evolution of the AROPE indicator for young people aged 16–29 between 2007 and 2012. Foreign non-EU-born young people had higher at-risk-of-poverty rates in 2012, with almost half of them being AROPE (49.2 %). However, the AROPE indicator has also increased steadily for the young native-born population, reaching 28.2 % in 2012. The gap between foreign EU-born and non-EU-born young people has grown from 9.2 pp in 2007 to 17.0 pp in 2012. The gap was even wider and increasing between non-EU-born and native-born young people (from 14.2 pp in 2007 to 21.0 pp in 2012).
As shown in Table 6, the AROPE rate for non-EU-born young people exceeded 50.0 % in a number of countries, including Greece (74.8 %), Ireland (65.5 %), Belgium (61.1 %), Croatia (56.7 %), France (55.4 %) and Spain (53.7 %). The lowest rates were registered in Malta (10.2 %), Estonia (27.4 %) and the Czech Republic (27.6 %). There were however serious reliability concerns on the data of these three countries.
Young people’s at-risk-of-poverty rate by country of birth
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 population segment below this threshold. Figure 10 illustrates the gap between the native-born and migrant populations with respect to their risk-of-poverty for the last three years of available data. The rates for the foreign population were significantly higher than for the native-born population for all the available years (in 2012, 34.5 % for the foreign-born population vs 19.4 % for the native-born population). In addition, the at-risk-of-poverty rate for young migrants born in a third country increased the most from 2010 to 2012 than for any other group of young people by country of birth (by 5.0 pp).
Foreign young people had the highest poverty rates in Greece, France, Spain and Belgium (54.3 %, 43.3 %, 42.3 % and 42.1 % respectively), while the lowest rates were observed in Hungary (5.0 %), the Czech Republic (9.8 %) and Malta (9.9 %). The situation of EU-born young migrants tended to be more favourable than that of non-EU-born migrants. While the at-risk-of-poverty rate of native-born young people varied from 7.8 % to 30.1 %, that of foreign EU-born young people ranged from 8.8 % to 51.7 % and that of non-EU-born young people from 10.2 % to 59.8 %.
Severe material deprivation rate of young people by country of birth
The severe material deprivation rate is an absolute measure of poverty which captures differences in living standards between countries, as well as the impact of growth on those standards in a given country.
As shown in Table 8, foreign-born young people tended to face higher rates of severe material deprivation in the EU-28 than native-born young people (16.5 % vs 11.2 %), with the highest rates found in Greece, Italy and Belgium (55.3 %, 26.7 % and 26.6 % respectively). However, in Malta the pattern was reversed, with the native-born population having higher rates of severe material deprivation than migrants. In Ireland, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Denmark and the United Kingdom severe material deprivation rates for native- and foreign-born young people were similar. The most significant differences between the native and migrant populations existed in Greece (31.9 pp), Belgium (21.7 pp), Latvia ( 13.5 pp) and Spain (13.4 pp).
Young people living in households with very low work intensity by country of birth
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. Work intensity in a household is affected by the structure, the composition and the size of the household.
The rates of young people living in households with very low work intensity by groups of country of birth at the country level are shown in Table 9. In 2012, the rate for native-born young people was 10.0 % (EU-28 average), compared with 14.7 % for foreign-born youths and 16.4 % for non-EU-born young people. At country level, the highest rates of foreign-born young people living in households with very low work intensity were reported in Belgium (27.1 %), Finland (25.4 %) and Ireland (22.5 %). Denmark (7.0 %), Italy (4.9 %), Slovenia (4.6 %), Malta (3.1 %) and Luxembourg (1.9 %) reported the lowest rates. For non-EU-born young people, the highest rates were observed in Belgium (36.6 %), FInland (28.0 %), Croatia (24.9 %), Ireland (21.8 %) and the United Kingdom (21.2 %), while the lowest rates were found in Luxembourg (1.5 %), Slovenia (4.6 %) and Austria (5.7 %). Foreign-born females appeared to be more exposed to low work intensity than males when EU-28 averages were considered, although this was not a common pattern across all EU Member States.
Last but not least, when analysing the low work intensity indicator one should take into account the measurement approach according to which students aged less than 25 years and those in full-time education or training are excluded, while households consisting solely of students are omitted entirely.
Data sources and availability
This article uses the EU-SILC and EU-LFS databases extensively to examine the socioeconomic situation of young migrants. These two databases are the most important official micro databases for comparative social and economic research into the situation of young persons.
The EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions
The EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) survey is the main source for the compilation of statistics on income, social inclusion and living conditions. It provides comparable micro-data on income, poverty, social exclusion, housing, labour, education and health. EU-SILC is implemented in the EU Member States, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey. It provides two types of annual data: cross-sectional data pertaining to a given time or a certain time period with variables on income, poverty, social exclusion and other living conditions and longitudinal data pertaining to individual-level changes over time, observed periodically over a four-year period.
The article focuses on comparisons between the native-born and migrant young populations with the relevant breakdowns by age groups and gender. The indicators are calculated by country of birth (COB). Notably, the breakdowns for EU include EU-27 instead of EU-28 aggregates since the latter are not yet available in Eurobase.
The European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS)
The European Union Labour Force Survey (EU-LFS) provides population estimates for the main labour market characteristics, such as employment, unemployment, inactivity, hours of work, occupation, economic activity and other labour related variables, as well as important socio-demographic characteristics, such as sex, age, education, household characteristics and regions of residence. The definitions of employment and unemployment, as well as other survey characteristics, follow the definitions and recommendations of the International Labour Organisation. The definition of unemployment is further precised in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1897/2000.
The indicators in this article use the definitions of the migrant integration indicators. The above age groups may not be same as used by Eurostat in the area of 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) .
Towards the goal of active social inclusion and in accordance with the integration of migrants, the European Commission policy context covers the fight against poverty and social exclusion among society’s vulnerable groups (European Commission, 2008; European Parliament Resolution, 2009). 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, Member States are encouraged to design, promote and implement an integrated comprehensive strategy for the active inclusion of young persons.
There is a strong link between integration and migration policies, since successful integration is necessary 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.
- Migrant integration statistics
- Migration and migrant population statistics
- Personal remittances statistics
- Youth unemployment
Further Eurostat information
- Indicators of immigrant integration — a pilot study
- Migrants in Europe, A statistical portrait of the first and second generation, 2011 edition
- Study on Active Inclusion of Migrants, IZA and ESRI, 2011
- Assessment of the implementation of the European Commission Recommendation on active inclusion: A study of national policies, 2012
- Youth in Europe
- Youth (yth), see:
- Youth employment (yth_empl)
- Youth social inclusion (yth_incl)
- Educational attainment and outcomes of education (edat)
- Transition from education to work, early leavers from education and training (edatt)
- Young people by educational and labour status (incl. neither in employment nor in education and training - NEET) (edatt0)
- Transition from education to work, early leavers from education and training (edatt)
Methodology / Metadata
- LFS series — Detailed annual survey results (ESMS metadata file — lfsa_esms)
- EU-SILC (ESMS metadata file — ilc_esms)
Source data for tables, figures and maps (MS Excel)
- The 2010 Zaragoza Declaration
- Migrant integration — DG Home Affairs
- Using EU Indicators of Immigrant Integration — final report prepared for DG Home Affairs
- Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) — ILO
- European website on integration
- Eurostat dedicated section: Migrant integration indicators
- United Nations: Youth, Social policy and development division
- United Nations: 2013 World Youth Report: Youth and Migration
- Set of common indicators agreed by EU Member States in the Zaragoza Declaration in 2010.
- See the subset of the proposed new indicators in the Report ‘Using EU Indicators of Immigrant Integration’ (2013). http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/e-library/documents/policies/immigration/general/docs/final_report_on_using_eu_indicators_of_immigrant_integration_june_2013_en.pdf