Migrant integration statistics - socioeconomic situation of young people
Data extracted in January 2021.
Planned article update: January 2022.
In 2019, more foreign-born young people aged 15-29 years (20%) 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 (32%) in 2019 than native-born young people (36%) and young people born outside the EU (43%).
24% of native-born young people and 40% of foreign-born young people had the risk of being in poverty or socially excluded in 2019.
Proportion of young employees (aged 15-29 years) in temporary employment, EU-27, 2009-2019
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 2009 and 2013, the proportion of all young people (aged 15-29 years) not in employment, education or training in the EU-27 increased from 14.8 % to reach 16.1 %. Then the share started declining to reach 12.6 % in 2019.
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 2009 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 26.6 % in 2009 to 29.3 % in 2013. The smallest increase was observed for young native-born, as their proportion rose from 13.9 % in 2009 to 15.1 % in 2013. Between 2013 and 2019, all groups recorded decreases. The decline was strongest for young people born in other EU Member States, down from a peak of 25.0 % in 2013 to 15.5 % in 2019. As such, a smaller proportion of young people born in other EU Member States were not in employment, education or training in 2019 than in 2009 (down 7.2 percentage points). For young native-born the difference was 2.1 percentage points in both years, whereas for young non-EU-born the proportion was 4.9 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 2019, the differences between these groups were 3.7 percentage points between the proportions for young native-born and young people born in other EU Member States and 6.2 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 of those not in employment, education or training in 2019 were found in Greece (37.3 %) and Italy (31.9 %). By contrast, the lowest shares (below 10 %) of young foreign-born who were not in employment, education or training were observed in Sweden (9.7 %) and Luxembourg (7.9 %) (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 2019 the proportion of young foreign-born people in this situation was much higher than for young native-born both for the EU-27 as a whole as well as for all the EU Member States.
For the EU-27, in 2019 less than one tenth (8.9 %) of young native-born were early leavers, while for young foreign-born the share was more than twice as high (22.2 %). Among all the 17 Member States for which data are available, the share of early leavers was higher for young foreign-born than it was for young native-born. The largest differences were recorded in Greece and Italy: the share of early leavers among young foreign-born people in Greece was 24.0 percentage points higher than the share among young people born in Greece, while in Italy the difference was 21.0 percentage points. Cyprus, Spain, Germany, Austria and Malta also reported differences of more than 10.0 percentage points.
In the EU-27, the proportion of early leavers from education and training who were employed decreased between 2009 and 2019 for all groups of young people, regardless of their place of birth — see Figure 2. The largest decrease (4.7 percentage points) was observed for young people born in other EU Member States. It was followed closely by the decrease recorded for non-EU-born young people (4.5 percentage points). The decrease observed for young native-born was 2.0 percentage points. The pattern of developments was somewhat irregular for the proportion of employed early leavers among migrants born in other EU Member States, initially falling at a relatively fast pace up until 2014, after which there was an increase in 2015 and again a decrease in 2016; in 2017 and 2018 there were two successive increases before another fall in 2019.
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). The share of not employed early leavers among young people born outside the EU remained high until 2012. Between 2012 and 2019 it recorded a decrease of 6.5 percentage points from 18.7 % in 2012 to 12.2 % in 2019. The share of not employed early leavers among young migrants born in other EU Member States reached a peak of 15.4 % in 2013 and then it started falling to reach 9.6 % in 2019 (a decrease of 5.8 percentage points).
Youth employment rate
In 2019, for the EU-27 as a whole, the employment rate of young foreign-born women (aged 15-29 years) was lower (42.7 %) than for young native-born women (45.2 %). The employment rate of young women born outside the EU was just 39.0 % in contrast to a 52.3 % 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, the highest employment rate was observed for migrants born in other EU Member States (62.5 %) and the lowest rate for those native-born (50.7 %), with the rate for young non-EU-born men (54.2 %) between these two rates.
Across the EU Member States, the highest employment rates in 2019 for young foreign-born men were found in Poland (76.0 %), Czechia (72.9 %), Malta (71.3 %) and Estonia (70.9 %; low reliability), while the lowest rates were recorded in France (47.2 %), Belgium (47.0 %) and Hungary (46.3 %). The highest employment rates for young foreign-born women were observed in Malta (74.7 %), Poland (67.0 %), Hungary (63.4 %) and Luxembourg (60.1 %) and the lowest in France (34.0 %), Slovenia (33.3 %), Greece (32.7 %) and Italy (30.1 %).
Considering age, in 2019 people across the EU-27 aged 25-29 years had the highest employment rates among all young people, regardless of their place of birth — see Figure 4.
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-27, those non-EU-born consistently had the highest rates of temporary employment between 2009 and 2019, followed by young native-born. Migrants born in other EU Member States had the lowest rates of temporary employment between 2009 and 2019. 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 2009), the share of temporary employment among employees native-born (33.1 %) was above that of migrants from other EU Member States (31.0 %), a difference of 2.1 percentage points; this gap widened in the next years to peak at 4.8 percentage points in 2013 and 4.7 percentage points in 2016 and stood at 3.5 percentage points in 2019. By contrast, the difference in temporary employment rates between young native-born and non-EU-born narrowed from 5.0 percentage points in 2009 to 1.4 in 2013 before expanding again to reach 7.5 percentage points in 2019.
In 2019, the EU Member States with the highest rates of temporary employment among the native-born employees were Spain (56.0 %), Italy (48.8 %) and Portugal (48.4 %), while the lowest rates were recorded in Latvia (5.5 %), Lithuania (3.8 %) and Romania (3.7 %). 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 60.8 %, observed in Poland, with Portugal Spain and the Netherlands also observing rates above 50.0 % for this subpopulation.
In 2019, young migrants born outside the EU recorded the highest shares of part-time employment (28.9 %), ahead of young migrants born in other EU Member States (23.1 %) and young native-born (22.4 %).
Comparing the shares in 2019 with 2009, the largest increase in part-time employment across the EU-27 was observed for young employed migrants born outside the EU (up 5.2 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 3.5 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-27, peaking in 2013 before subsequently declining. For all young people together, the unemployment rate in the EU-27 rose from 15.9 % in 2009 to a peak of 19.7 % in 2013 before falling to 11.9 % in 2019.
Looking at the observed subpopulations, the EU-27 unemployment rate for young non-EU-born people was higher than for other young people throughout the period shown in Figure 7. Not only were the rates higher for young migrants born outside the EU, the unemployment rate for this subpopulation grew more rapidly between 2009 and 2013 (up 9.6 percentage points) than it did for young migrants born in other EU Member States (5.0 percentage points) and young native-born (3.6 percentage points). By 2019, the unemployment rates observed for all young subpopulations were lower than they had been in 2009.
Figure 8 shows that young people in the EU-27 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-27 unemployment rate among people aged 15-19 years and those aged 20-24 years was for native-born (17.9 %), whereas for those aged 20-24 years and 25-29 years, the lowest unemployment rates were for migrants born in other EU Member States (12.9 % and 8.2 % respectively).
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-27 as a whole, among young native-born (aged 15-29 years), men had a higher unemployment rate (11.6 %) than women (11.2 %) in 2019. Among young persons born in other EU Member States and born outside the EU the reverse was true as young women faced higher unemployment rates than young men.
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 13 of the 19 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 13.0 percentage points observed in Sweden. The unemployment rate for young native-born was higher than for their foreign-born peers in Croatia (2.9 percentage points difference; data for foreign-born are of low reliability), Cyprus (2.0 percentage points), Portugal (1.2 percentage points) and Ireland (0.4 percentage points). In Italy and Spain the rates were almost identical.
Greece had the highest unemployment rate for young foreign-born people (36.9 %) in 2019 among the 19 EU Member States for which data are available. The lowest unemployment rate for young foreign-born was in Czechia (4.3 %; 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 risk of poverty or social exclusion for young people (aged 16-29 years) in the EU-27: note that, because of data availability, the time series starts in 2010 rather than 2009 used elsewhere in this article. Moreover, the data for young migrants born in other EU Member States are not available as they are of very limited reliability. Young migrants born outside the EU had the highest at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate of 43.4 % (low reliability) in 2019. By contrast, the rate observed for young native-born people was 23.6 %. The rate for young migrants born outside the EU was 3.0 percentage points lower than it had been in 2010, while for young native-born the rate was 2.7 percentage points lower. The gap between these rates for young native-born and young migrants born outside the EU slightly narrowed from 20.1 percentage points in 2010 to 19.8 percentage points in 2019.
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 2019, namely in Spain (51.8 %), Sweden (50.6 %), Greece (50.3 %) 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 the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Among young people born in other EU Member States, only in Spain (54.8 %), Denmark (54.0 %) and Sweden (51.8 %; 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 (37.1 %).
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-27 with respect to their risk-of-poverty: again, data are only available from 2010. The data for young migrants born in other EU Member States are not available as they are of very limited reliability. The at-risk-of-poverty rates for young foreign-born (note: data with limited reliability for 2010 to 2016) were higher than for young native-born for all the available years: the gap was 16.4 percentage points in 2010, increased to 19.4 percentage points in 2014 and again narrowed back to 16.0 percentage points in 2019. In 2019, 18.5 % of young native-born were at risk of poverty in the EU-27, while the rate for young foreign-born was nearly twice as high, at 34.5 %. Among young migrants born outside the EU, the rate was higher (36.7 %; low reliability).
Among the 21 EU Member States for which data are available for young foreign-born people in 2019, the highest at-risk-of-poverty rates were in Spain and Sweden (both 46.1 %) and France (45.0 %): whereas the lowest rates were observed in Croatia (16.0 %), Ireland (15.5 %) and Czechia (14.4 %). When comparing young foreign-born and young native-born people, the at-risk-of-poverty rate for the latter group was consistently lower, except in Italy where the rate for young native-born was higher (0.8 percentage points).
Among the 19 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 12 Member States, while in seven the reverse situation was observed.
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 2019, by far the highest severe material deprivation rate for young foreign-born people (aged 16-29 years) was observed in Greece (35.5 %), followed by Cyprus (18.9 %), Spain (16.0 %) and the Netherlands (13.8 %).
As can be seen from Table 8, young foreign-born faced higher rates of severe material deprivation in the EU-27 than their native-born peers in 2019 (9.1 % compared with 5.5 %). Among the 21 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 Portugal, Malta, Ireland, Czechia and Estonia. In Poland and Italy the reates were identical.
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 2019 the share for young native-born persons was 8.8 % in the EU-27, compared with 12.5 % for young foreign-born; for young migrants born outside the EU the share was 13.9 % (low reliability).
The highest shares of young foreign-born persons living in households with very low work intensity were reported in Finland (24.5 %), the Netherlands (23.0 %), Denmark (22.0 %), Belgium (21.4 %) and Sweden (20.5 %). By contrast, Slovenia (4.9 %), Italy (4.8 %), Portugal (4.7 %) and Estonia (1.7 %; low reliability) reported the lowest shares in 2019.
Among the 21 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 14 Member States (with the largest percentage points difference observed in Sweden, 13.2); in seven Member States the reverse was true (with the largest percentage points difference observed in Italy, 9.3).
Looking at the two subpopulations of young migrants, in 13 of the 19 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 (24.6 percentage points; data for those born in other Member States are of low reliability) and Finland (22.4 percentage points). By contrast, lower shares for young people born outside the EU than for those born in other Member States were reported by five countries, with the largest difference observed in Czechia (10.3 percentage points; data for both subpopulations are of low reliability). In Slovenia the rates were identical (data for those born in other Member States are of low reliability).
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-27 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 the same as those normally used for social inclusion statistics.
Tables in this article use the following notation:
|Value in italics||estimate or provisional data;|
|Value in bold||value is of low reliability (due to small sample size);|
|Value is :||not available.|
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.
In November 2020, an Action plan on Integration and Inclusion 2021-2027 (COM(2016) 377 final) was adopted. It seeks to detail targeted and tailored support to reflect the individual characteristics that may present specific challenges to people with a migrant background, such as gender or religious background.
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.