Living conditions in Europe - labour conditions


Data extracted in December 2020.

Planned article update: December 2021.

Highlights

In 2019, almost one fifth (19.5 %) of the EU-27 population living in single-person households with dependent children lived in a household with very low work intensity.

In 2019, the risk of poverty in the EU-27 decreased as work intensity increased: from 62.7 % among people living in households with very low work intensity to a low of 5.6 % for people living in households with very high work intensity.

In 2019, half (50.4 %) of all young adults (aged 18-34 years) in the EU-27 lived with their parents.

In-work at-risk-of-poverty rate for people aged 18 years and over, analysed by sex, 2019
Source: Eurostat (ilc_iw01)

This article is part of a set of statistical articles that form Eurostat’s online publication, Living conditions in Europe. Each article helps provide a comprehensive and up-to-date summary of living conditions in Europe, presenting some key results from the European Union’s (EU) statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC), which is conducted across EU Member States, as well as the EFTA countries (except Liechtenstein), the United Kingdom and the candidate countries (except Albania).

Full article

Key findings

This article presents statistics related to living conditions experienced by people in the EU. It offers a picture of everyday lives across the EU, focusing on labour market conditions, as these potentially have a profound impact on living standards. The information presented provides an analysis of work intensity, income distribution, the risk of poverty and the share of young working adults still living at home.

In 2019, very low work intensity in the EU-27 was most common among people living in:

  • single-person households — 19.5 % of single persons with dependent children and 19.0 % of those without dependent children lived in households with very low work intensity;
  • households of two adults (and no dependent children) with at least one person aged 65 years or over — 33.3 % lived in households with very low work intensity.

There appears to be a clear link between work intensity and the risk of poverty, insofar as the risk of poverty among the EU-27 population aged less than 60 years was 5.6 % for those living in households characterised by very high work intensity and was 10.1 % for those living in households characterised by high work intensity. By contrast, the rate was 40.7 % for people living in households characterised by low work intensity and 62.7 % for those living in households characterised by very low work intensity.

The share of young adults (aged 18-34 years) in the EU-27 living with their parents was slightly higher in 2019 than it had been in 2009. At the end of this period it stood at 56.1 % among young men and 44.7 % among young women. The majority of these young adults were either employed or students. Their decision to live with their parents may, at least in part, be influenced by the precarious nature of their employment: close to half (48.6 %) of young adults who were employees and lived with their parents had a temporary employment contract.

Work intensity

Very low work intensity was most common among persons living in single-person households

The main income source for most households and therefore the main determinant of its economic situation is the employment status of its members.

Very low work intensity is one of the three components of the at risk of poverty or social exclusion indicator (referred to by the acronym AROPE, see this article for more information).

Work intensity is defined as the ratio between the number of months that household members of working age (defined here as people aged 18-59 years, excluding dependent children aged 18-24 years) actually worked during the income reference year and the total number of months that they could theoretically have worked.

Very low work intensity refers to people aged less than 60 years living in households where the household members of working age worked a working time equal to or less than 20 % of their total combined work-time potential during the previous year.

In 2019, some 12.5 % of the EU-27 population aged less than 60 years and living in households without dependent children were members of a household with very low work intensity (see Table 1). Among the EU-27 Member States, this rate ranged between 5.8 % in Malta and 21.7 % in Greece.

Table 1: Share of the population aged less than 60 years living in households with very low work intensity, analysed by household type, 2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_lvhl13)

Slightly less than one fifth (19.0 %) of the EU-27 population aged less than 60 years who lived alone had a very low level of work intensity in 2019. This share was, unsurprisingly, lower than the share recorded for the population who were living in households composed of two adults (and no dependent children) with at least one person aged 65 years or over (33.3 %). Nevertheless, it was substantially higher than the average for all people aged less than 60 years living in households without children (12.5 %).

The share of the EU-27 population aged less than 60 years that lived in households with very low work intensity was lower among people living in households with dependent children

Among the EU-27 population aged less than 60 years living in households with dependent children in 2019, the share that lived in households with very low work intensity was 6.0 %. This share was even lower for people living in households composed of two or more adults with dependent children (4.6 %), or two adults with one dependent child (4.5 %). By contrast, almost one fifth (19.5 %) of the population aged less than 60 years living in single-person households with dependent children were living in households with very low work intensity. Among the population aged less than 60 years living in a household with dependent children in 2019, the share that lived in households with very low work intensity ranged among the EU-27 Member States from 2.5 % in Slovenia and less than 4.0 % in Poland, Czechia, Estonia and Hungary up to 10.0 % in Belgium and 13.3 % in Ireland.

Among the EU-27 population aged less than 60 years living alone in 2019, the share that had a very low work intensity (19.0 %) was somewhat lower than the corresponding share recorded among people living in single-person households with dependent children (19.5 %). This pattern was repeated across a small majority of the EU-27 Member States, although there were 12 Member States where very low work intensity was more prevalent among people living on their own than within single-person households with dependent children.

The presence of dependent children had a particularly large impact on the share of the population aged less than 60 years living in households with very low work intensity in Denmark and Greece: rates were respectively 12.2 and 12.5 percentage points higher for people living in households without dependent children. Bulgaria was the only EU-27 Member State where the rate was higher within households with dependent children.

The share of the foreign-born population living in a household with very low work intensity was higher than the corresponding share for the nationally-born population

Across the EU-27 in 2019, some 11.4 % of the foreign-born population aged 18-59 years lived in a household with very low work intensity; this share was 2.7 percentage points higher than the corresponding share for the nationally-born population (8.7 %) — see Figure 1. In 16 of the EU-27 Member States, a higher share of the foreign-born population aged 18-59 years lived in households with very low work intensity; this gap was 5.0 percentage points or more in five Member States and was particularly wide in Sweden (12.4 percentage points). By contrast, in nine of the Member States, a lower share of foreign-born (rather than nationally-born) people aged 18-59 years lived in households with very low work intensity; this gap was less than 5.0 percentage points in all of these except for Bulgaria (where the gap was 5.3 percentage points).

Figure 1: Share of the population aged 18 to 59 years living in households with very low work intensity, analysed by country of birth, 2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_lvhl12) and (ilc_lvhl16)

Risk of poverty and work intensity

Risk of poverty decreases considerably as work intensity rises

This section focuses on the impact that work intensity may have in relation to the risk of poverty. Several governments across the EU have focused on getting people back into work as a key policy for alleviating the risk of poverty, through initiatives that are designed to ‘make work pay’. An example is introducing changes to welfare and tax systems that encourage people to work (more). The work intensity of each household is unsurprisingly closely related to its income. Generally, the more working people there are within a household and the longer they work, the lower the chance that the household may be at risk of poverty.

In the EU-27, the at-risk-of-poverty rate for people aged less than 60 years living in households with very low work intensity was 62.7 % in 2019; this rate ranged from 45.3 % in Cyprus to more than 70.0 % of the population in seven EU-27 Member States, among which Sweden where the rate peaked at 80.7 % (see Map 1).

Map 1: At-risk-of-poverty rate for people aged less than 60 years living in households with very low work intensity, 2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_li06)

In 2019, the risk of poverty in the EU-27 decreased as work intensity increased. It ranged from 62.7 % for people aged less than 60 years living in households with very low work intensity and 40.7 % among those living in households with low work intensity, to 23.6 % for people living in households with medium work intensity and 10.1 % for those in households with high work intensity. It reached a low of 5.6 % for people living in households with very high work intensity. The boundaries used to define these different levels of work intensity are provided in Figure 2.

A similar pattern to the one recorded for the EU-27 was repeated in each of the EU-27 Member States in 2019. The only exceptions were Belgium and Austria, where the at-risk-of-poverty rate was somewhat higher for people aged less than 60 years living in households with medium work intensity than for those in households with low work intensity.

Figure 2: At-risk-of-poverty rate for people aged less than 60 years, analysed by household work intensity, 2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_lvhl06)

Risk of in-work poverty

Across much of the EU-27, the risk of in-work poverty was lower for women (than for men)

The risk of poverty is not exclusively restricted to economically inactive or retired persons and those who work a relatively short amount of time (for example, part-time or seasonally). Indeed, the risk of poverty extends to those in work: in 2019, almost 1 in 10 (9.0 %) persons aged 18 years and over living in the EU-27 was at risk of poverty despite being in work. Note that the risk of poverty faced by an individual is assessed taking into account the total income of the household in which they live (and is therefore not directly linked to their personal income, but a broader measure covering the whole household). In the EU-27, the share of the male population aged 18 years and over that was in work and at risk of poverty was higher (9.4 %) in 2019 than the corresponding share for the female population (8.5 %) — see Figure 3.

Figure 3: In-work at-risk-of-poverty rate for people aged 18 years and over, analysed by sex, 2019
Source: Eurostat (ilc_iw01)

In 2019, the pattern of a higher in-work risk-of-poverty rate for men was observed in 22 of the EU-27 Member States. The rates for men and women were the same in France, while lower rates for men were observed in Czechia, Hungary, Latvia and Germany (where the female in-work at-risk-of-poverty rate was 2.4 percentage points higher than that for men). The gap between male and female in-work at-risk-of-poverty rates was greatest in Romania, where the rate among men was 6.9 percentage points higher than the rate for women. The gender gap ranged from 2.9 to 3.6 percentage points — again with higher rates for men — in Greece, Malta and Italy. These gaps may, at least in part, be influenced by a relatively low share of women in employment across many southern Member States.

The in-work risk of poverty was the same in 2011 and 2019

The EU-27 in-work at-risk-of-poverty rate was the same in 2019 as it had been in 2011, 9.0 % (see Table 2). The highest risk of in-work poverty was recorded among young adults (aged 18-24 years), where the rate was 11.6 % in 2019. This rate generally decreased as a function of working age: 9.0 % for those aged 25-54 years and 8.1 % for those aged 55-64 years. However, it was slightly above average for people aged 65 years and over who were still working, at 9.3 %.

Table 2: In-work at-risk-of-poverty rate, analysed by age, 2011 and 2019
Source: Eurostat (ilc_iw01)

There were considerable differences across the EU-27 Member States in terms of the in-work at-risk-of-poverty rates for the age groups shown in Table 2. In almost half (13 out of 27) of the Member States, the highest in-work at-risk-of-poverty rates in 2019 were recorded for young adults aged 18-24 years. There were three Member States, namely Czechia, Lithuania and Malta, where the highest in-work at-risk-of-poverty rate was recorded among the population aged 25-54 years. In three (other) Member States the highest rate was recorded among the population aged 55-64 years: Latvia, Hungary and Poland. In eight Member States the highest in-work at-risk-of-poverty rate was recorded for the population aged 65 years and over, from a low of 8.0 % in Croatia, through Belgium, Slovenia, Slovakia, Germany, Portugal and Luxembourg, to a high of 46.6 % in Romania.

When considering all EU-27 Member States, the in-work at-risk-of-poverty rate for older workers ranged from less than 2.0 % in Finland, Lithuania and Poland to 18.8 % in Luxembourg, with the previously mentioned 46.6 % in Romania well above this range. This diversity in rates for older workers may reflect some elderly people remaining in employment beyond the age of 65 year as a lifestyle choice, in contrast to others who might continue to work out of (economic) necessity.

Income transitions

Two fifths of the EU-27 working-age population saw a notable change in their income in the previous year

This section refers exclusively to income derived from employment and analyses income transitions within the working-age population. To do so, information on income levels is ranked and then divided into 10 separate groups of equal size — each of these is called a decile. The income that an individual receives may vary from one year to the next and this is especially true when people change jobs or if they adjust their usual working hours, but may also occur as a result of changes to their responsibilities/seniority, or may simply reflect a pay rise or a bonus payment. As such, the position that people occupy within the overall distribution of income varies over time, either due to changes in their own income or changes for the rest of the working population. It is likely that there will be a greater number of transitions between income deciles in those economies that are characterised by flexible labour markets or a rapid pace of economic change.

In 2019, around two fifths (39.2 %) of the EU-27 working-age population (defined here as people aged 16-64 years) was confronted by a change in their income decile (when compared with the previous year) or a change to no income from employment.

Those that moved up at least one income decile accounted for 21.3 % of the working-age population, while those that moved down at least one decile accounted for 17.9 % — among which 3.9 % transitioned to no income (which may occur, among other reasons, from being made unemployed, enrolling in education or training, taking a career break, caring for a relative, or moving into retirement). The remaining 60.8 % of the EU-27’s working-age population had no change in their income decile (see Figure 4).

Figure 4: Income transitions — changes in level of income from employment during the previous year for people aged 16-64 years, 2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_lvhl34)
Maps 2 and 3 provide more information in relation to upward and downward income transitions among the working-age populations of the countries of this article in 2019. The highest shares for upward income transitions (of at least one decile) were recorded in Hungary, Estonia, Belgium, Sweden and Bulgaria, while the highest shares for downward income transitions were recorded in Hungary, Bulgaria and Latvia.
Map 2: Share of people aged 16-64 years reporting an upward transition of at least one income decile during the previous year, 2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_lvhl34)
Map 3: Share of people aged 16-64 years reporting a downward transition of at least one income decile during the previous year, 2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_lvhl34)

Young adults still living at home

Around half of all young adults (aged 18-34 years) were living with their parents

Leaving the parental home is an important event in many people’s lives and can be viewed as part of the transition or passage from childhood to adulthood. A journey which includes, among other things, the completion of education, becoming an active participant in the labour force, achieving economic and cultural independence, and forming other relationships or a separate family unit. The decision to live independently away from the parental home has been increasingly affected by the security of employment and the price/availability of accommodation (for rent or purchase). Between 2010 and 2019, the share of young adults (defined here as those aged 18-34 years) in the EU-27 who were living with their parents increased slightly, from 48.7 % to 50.4 % (see Figure 5).

Figure 5: Share of young adults (aged 18-34 years) living with their parents, analysed by sex, 2010-2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_lvps08)

In 2019, more than half (56.1 %) of all young male adults in the EU-27 lived with their parents; the corresponding share for young female adults was lower (44.7 %). The share of young adults who lived with their parents rose slightly during the period 2010 to 2019, the share for young men rose by 1.0 percentage points, while that for young women increased by 2.5 percentage points.

A more detailed analysis is presented in Table 3, which provides information on two subpopulations of young adults, namely those aged 18-24 years and those aged 25-34 years. Across the EU-27, the share of 18-24 year-olds that lived with their parents increased from 80.8 % to 82.9 % from 2011 to 2019, while there was also a small increase (from 29.7 % to 30.5 %) in the proportion of 25-34 year-olds who lived with their parents. For both age groups, the increases between 2011 and 2019 were notably larger for the euro area than for the EU-27 as a whole; this reflected large decreases in several non-euro area Member States, such as in Denmark, Sweden, Romania and Bulgaria for people aged 18-24 years, and in Bulgaria and Czechia for people aged 25-34 years.

Table 3: Share of young adults living with their parents, analysed by age group, 2011, 2015 and 2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_lvps08)

In 2019, the share of young adults aged 18-24 years living with their parents was less than 50 % in Denmark and Finland. At the other end of the range, at least 9 out of every 10 young persons aged 18-24 years in Portugal, Slovakia, Croatia, Spain and Malta lived with their parents, with this share peaking at 94.7 % in Italy.

Turning to young adults aged 25-34 years, all three Nordic Member States reported that less than 10 % of this subpopulation lived with their parents in 2019, while in the Netherlands, France, Estonia, Germany and Austria less than one fifth of all adults aged 25-34 years lived with their parents. By contrast, there were four EU-27 Member States where more than half of all young adults aged 25-34 years lived with their parents, namely Italy (53.1 %), Slovakia (55.0 %), Greece (57.8 %) and Croatia (62.2 %).

An analysis of developments for the share of young adults living with their parents between 2011 and 2019 reveals that there were nine EU-27 Member States where the share of both age groups living with their parents declined: Bulgaria, Czechia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia. On the other hand, there were 10 Member States where the share of both age groups living with their parents increased: Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Croatia, Italy, the Netherlands, Hungary and Finland.

Young adults living with their parents were most likely to be students

In 2019, students accounted for two fifths (40.4 %) of the young adults (aged 18-34 years) in the EU-27 who lived with their parents. The next highest share of young adults living with their parents was recorded among those in full-time employment (36.9 %), while 10.7 % were unemployed, 7.1 % were in part-time employment, and 4.8 % were economically inactive (for reasons other than being a student) — see Figure 6.

Figure 6: Share of young adults (aged 18-34 years) living with their parents, analysed by self-reported economic status, 2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (online data code: ilc_lvps09)

In 2019, there were five EU-27 Member States where more than half of all young adults living with their parents were students: Sweden (50.6 %), France (51.1 %), Belgium (52.2 %), Luxembourg (53.5 %) and the Netherlands (55.6 %). This share was less than one quarter in Bulgaria (24.8 %) and Malta (21.7 %). In a similar vein, in four EU-27 Member States more than half of all young adults living with their parents were in full-time employment: Croatia (52.1 %), Bulgaria (54.0 %), Slovakia (56.8 %) and Malta (64.7 %). Nearly one quarter of young adults living with their parents were unemployed in Greece (24.7 %).

The share of young employed adults who lived with their parents who were employed on a temporary basis increased in recent years

In 2019, nearly half (48.6 %) of young adult employees in the EU-27 who lived with their parents had a temporary employment contract (see Figure 7). This share was over half in six EU-27 Member States and exceeded two thirds (69.1 %) in Spain. By contrast, the share of young adult employees living with their parents who had a temporary employee contract was no more than 10.0 % in the Baltic Member States and in Romania.

Figure 7: Distribution by type of employment contract of young adult employees (aged 18-34 years) living with their parents, 2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_lvps10)

An analysis for two different age groups of young adults in the EU-27 living with their parents shows an increase between 2011 and 2019 in the share of employees who had a temporary employment contract (see Table 4). By 2019, a majority (60.7 %) of the subpopulation aged 18-24 years had a temporary employee contract, compared with 45.0 % in 2011. Among those aged 25-34 years, the share with a temporary employee contract had reached 37.6 % by 2019, up from 34.1 % in 2011.

Table 4: Distribution by type of employment contract of young adult employees (aged 18-34 years) living with their parents, analysed by age, 2011 and 2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (ilc_lvps10)

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

The data used in this article are primarily derived from EU-SILC. EU-SILC data are compiled annually and are the main source of statistics that measure income and living conditions in Europe; it is also the main source of information used to link different aspects relating to the quality of life of households and individuals.

The reference population for the information presented in this article is all private households and their current members residing in the territory of an EU Member State (or non-member country) at the time of data collection; persons living in collective households and in institutions are generally excluded from the target population. The data for the EU-27 are population-weighted averages of national data.

Tables in this article use the following notation:

Value in italics     data value is forecasted, provisional or estimated and is therefore likely to change;
: not available, confidential or unreliable value.

Context

The European Pillar of Social Rights is designed to build a more inclusive and fairer EU. It covers 20 principles under three core areas: equal opportunities and access to the labour market; fair working conditions; social protection and inclusion. The European Pillar of Social Rights is part of the policy area A deeper and fairer economic and monetary union, itself part of the priority An economy that works for people, which is one of the six European Commission’s priorities for 2019-2024.

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