Young people - social inclusion
Data extracted in January 2021.
Planned article update: February 2022.
In 2019, the rate of young people aged 16-29 years at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU was 25.1 %, or 18.6 million young people, with women at slightly higher risk than men.
In 2019, 9.0 % of people aged 16-29 years in the EU lived in households with very low work intensity.
Between 2012 and 2019, the severe material deprivation rate for young people aged 16-29 years in the EU fell from 11.6 % to 5.8 %.
This article presents statistics on the social inclusion of young people (aged 16-29 years) in the European Union (EU), as well as in several EFTA countries, the United Kingdom and some candidate countries. The analysis focuses on an indicator concerning people at risk of poverty or social exclusion and its sub-components — the at-risk-of-poverty rate, the severe material deprivation rate and the share of households with very low work intensity. It also provides information distinguishing whether young people live with their parents or not. Comparisons by age groups and sex are also presented.
Living with parents
Before looking at the social inclusion indicators, Figures 1 and 2 present some basic information on the proportion of young people living with their parents. In 2019, the share of young people (aged 16-29 years) living with their parents was 69.0 % in the EU-27: for young men the share was 73.5 % while for young women it was 64.3 %, a gap of 9.2 percentage points.
In every EU Member State the proportion of young women living in the parental home was lower than that of young men, as can be seen in Figure 1. The largest gender gaps were observed in Bulgaria (20.0 percentage points) and Czechia (17.7 percentage points) while the lowest were in Italy (3.0 percentage points), Hungary (2.9 percentage points), Sweden (1.7 percentage points) and Ireland (1.5 percentage points). The largest shares of young men living with their parents were recorded in Croatia (91.7 %), Greece (88.0 %), Slovakia (87.9 %) and Italy (86.8 %) while for young women the largest shares were in Italy (83.8 %) and Croatia (83.6 %). The lowest percentages were recorded in Denmark (36.2 % for young men and 24.9 % for young women), Finland (43.1 % and 30.0 % respectively) and Sweden (41.4 % and 39.7 % respectively).
Figure 2 shows the share of young people living with their parents, distinguishing three five-year age groups among young people. Since the vast majority of young people in education remain living with their parents, the overwhelming majority of young people who were teenagers (aged 16-19 years) lived with their parents in all EU Member States in 2019. In fact, only in one Member State - in Sweden - was the share of people aged 16-19 years living with their parents just below 90.0 % (88.6 %). The share of teenagers living with parents was above 95.0 % in 20 of the Member States, reaching 98.7 % in Czechia and Italy. Among the non-member countries for which data are presented in Figure 2, Norway stands out as only 83.9 % of young people aged 16-19 years were living with parents, a far lower share than in any of the EU Member States.
Among young people in the two older age groups — 20-24 years and 25-29 years — there were significant variations between the EU Member States. For the age group 20-24 years, the share of young people living with their parents in 2019 was below 30 % in Denmark (20.0 %) and Finland (28.8 %) and below 50 % in Sweden (39.6 %). Elsewhere, a majority of young people in this age group lived still with their parents, the shares ranging from 61.5 % in the Netherlands to more than 90.0 % in Slovakia (91.5 %), Croatia and Spain (both 91.6 %), as well as Italy and Malta (both 92.8 %). In all Member States, the share of young people aged 20-24 years living with their parents was lower than in the age group 16-19 years. Equally, the share of young people aged 25-29 years living with their parents was lower than in the age group 20-24 years in all EU Member States. Within this oldest group the share of young people living still with their parents ranged from less than 10.0 % in the Nordic Member States to shares above 70.0 % in Italy (71.1 %), Greece (71.9 %) and Croatia (77.6 %). Among the non-member countries shown in Figure 2, Norway (9.0 %) recorded a very low share of young people aged 25-29 years living with their parents while the share in North Macedonia (71.0 %) was particularly high.
The indicator concerning the share of the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion is based on three indicators: the at-risk-of-poverty rate, the severe material deprivation rate and the share of households with very low work intensity. People at risk of poverty or social exclusion are defined as people who are in at least one (but possibly two or all three) of these situations.
In 2019, the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate for young people aged 16-29 years was 25.1 % in the EU-27, corresponding to about 18.6 million young people. The share of young people at risk of poverty or social exclusion increased by 2.5 percentage points between 2010 and 2014 and then declined again by 4.8 percentage points between 2014 and 2019. Combining these figures, the rate in 2019 was 2.3 percentage points lower than it had been in 2010 (see Figure 3).
Figure 3 shows that young women (aged 16-29 years) had slightly higher at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rates than young men throughout the period shown, although the gender gap was narrowest in 2015 where the rates were different by 0.1 percentage points. The latest 2019 rates show a gender gap of 1.5 percentage points, with a rate of 25.8 % for young women and a rate of 24.3 % for young men. For comparison, in 2010 the gender gap had been 1.6 percentage points. In 2019, the rate for young men was 2.3 percentage points lower than it had been in 2010 while for young women the decrease was of 2.4 percentage points.
From Table 1 it can be seen that in 2019 women aged 16-29 had higher at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rates than men of the same age in 18 EU Member States, with the difference being highest in Spain (4.1 percentage points), followed by Germany (4.0 percentage points). In nine Member States, young women had lower at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rates than men; the biggest differences were observed in Bulgaria (3.1 percentage points) and Croatia (1.8 percentage points).
In 2019, the EU Member States with the highest levels of young people (aged 16-29 years) at risk of poverty or social exclusion were Greece (38.1 %), Romania (34.2 %) and Denmark (33.2 %), while the lowest rates were found in Malta (15.0 %), Slovenia (12.5 %), and Czechia (11.0 %). Among non-member countries, high rates were also recorded in North Macedonia (43.0 %) and Turkey (40.6 %), while low rates were recorded in Switzerland (18.1 %) and Iceland (13.6 %; 2018 data).
In 2019, in the majority of EU Member States the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate for young people (aged 16-29) was lower for those living with their parents than for those who were not (see Table 2). Exceptions were Poland, Portugal, Greece, Malta, Latvia, France and Belgium, where the share was higher for those living with their parents. These differences were more significant in some Member States than in others. In Denmark, the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate for young people not living with their parents was 5.4 times as high as for those living with their parents (44.1 % compared with 8.1 %). The rates for young people not living with their parents were also at least twice as high as for those living with their parents in Finland, Slovenia, Austria, and Germany. As regards the EFTA countries, a similar situation was observed to that among the majority of the Member States, with the rate systematically lower for those living with their parents, with particularly large differences in the rates in Iceland (2015 data) and Norway. In three of the four candidate countries for which data are available, the rate was lower among the young people living with their parents than among those who were not, the one exception being Turkey.
In all EU Member States, EFTA and candidate countries, a higher proportion of teenagers aged 16-19 years who were not living with parents were at risk of poverty or social exclusion than those who lived with parents. In Denmark, the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate in 2019 for young people aged 16-19 not living with their parents was 6.2 times as high as for those living with their parents (52.1 % compared with 8.4 %), while in Germany the rate was 5.5 times as high and the Netherlands 5.2 times as high. The other Member States where the rate was at least 3.0 times as high for those not living with their parents were Czechia, Ireland, France, Slovenia, Finland and Sweden; this was also the case in Switzerland and Norway. The smallest differences were noted in Greece, Spain and Italy.
Among young people aged 20-24 years, as was observed in the younger age group, in all EU Member States (with the exception of Ireland) and non-member countries (with the exception of North Macedonia) shown in Table 2 a higher proportion of those who were not living with their parents were at risk of poverty or social exclusion than those who lived with their parents. In 2019, in Denmark, the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate for young people aged 20-24 years not living with their parents was 9.0 times as high as for those living with their parents (57.3 % compared with 6.4 %). The other Member States where the rate was at least 3.0 times as high for those not living with their parents were Austria (4.5 times as high), Germany, Slovenia (both 4.4 times as high), the Netherlands (3.6 times as high), Czechia and Finland (both 3.1 times as high). The smallest differences were observed in Portugal, Malta, Italy, Croatia and Greece.
In general, a smaller share of persons aged 25-29 years were at risk of poverty or social exclusion than was the case for persons aged 20-24 years or 16-19 years. In 11 Member States — Belgium, Estonia, Greece, France, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia — a smaller proportion of young people aged 25-29 years not living with parents were at risk of poverty or social exclusion than among those living with parents. However, in Denmark the rate was 3 times higher for young people not living with their parents, and in Slovenia and Finland it was twice as high.
At-risk-of-poverty rate of young people
The at-risk-of-poverty rate measures poverty in relative terms. This indicator defines a poverty threshold at 60 % of the net median equivalised disposable income: the population whose income is below this threshold is considered to be at risk of poverty relative to the rest of the population.
the at-risk-of-poverty rate was slightly higher in 2019 than in 2010 for two age groups: 20-24 years (increasing by 1.6 percentage points) and 25-29 years (increasing by 1.1 percentage points) (see Figure 4). A decrease of 1.0 percentage point was observed for teenagers aged 16-19 years.
In 2019, slight differences were noted in the at-risk-of-poverty rate for young women and young men (see Table 3). For the EU-27, the difference was 1.5 percentage points, where the at-risk-of-poverty rate for young men was 19.2 % and for young women it was 20.7 %. In the majority of EU Member States — 22 out of 27 — the at-risk-of-poverty rate was higher for young women than for young men. In Lithuania, the percentage of young women at risk of poverty was higher than that for young men by more than 5.0 percentage points. In the remaining five Member States the situation was reversed - the at-risk-of-poverty rate for young men being higher than for young women, with the largest difference (2.2 percentage points) noted in Croatia.
Table 4 presents the at-risk-of-poverty rates for young people with an analysis whether or not they were living with parents. In 2019, a higher rate of young people (aged 16-29 years) at risk of poverty in the EU-27 was observed among young people not living with parents (24.7 %) than living with parents (17.5 %). Within each of these two subpopulations, the at-risk-of-poverty rate for the EU-27 was highest in the youngest age group (persons aged 16-19 years) and lowest in the oldest age group (persons aged 25-29).
Among young people not living with parents, Denmark and Spain were the only Member States where the highest at-risk-of-poverty rate among the three age groups was not for those aged 16-19 years.
Considering the whole age group 16-29, Figure 5 shows that, in 2019, in 15 of the EU Member States, living or not with parents did not have a major impact on the risk-of-poverty rate as the difference of the indicator for these two subpopulations was less than 5.0 percentage points. In four of these 15 Member States — Greece, Poland, Portugal and Romania — the rates were in fact higher for young people living with parents than for those not living with parents. In the other 12 Member States, where larger differences were observed, the rates were always higher for those not living with parents. The largest differences between these rates were observed in Denmark (33.7 percentage points) and in Germany (20.7 percentage points).
Severe material deprivation
Material deprivation indicators have been defined to complement the relative poverty indicator (which is based on current income) by taking account of non-monetary resources. Their definition is based on the inability to afford a selection of nine specific items that are considered to be necessary or desirable: to pay their rent, mortgage or utility bills; to keep their home adequately warm; to face unexpected expenses; to eat meat or proteins regularly; to go one week on holiday; a television set; a washing machine; a car; a telephone. The severe material deprivation rate is based on a single European threshold. It is an absolute measure of poverty which captures the differences in living standards between EU Member States. Persons who cannot afford four or more of the nine items are considered to be severely materially deprived.
In 2019, the severe material deprivation rate for young people (aged 16-29) in the EU was lower than it had been in 2010 (see Figure 6). From 2010 to 2012 the rate increased from 10.2 % to 11.6 %. Thereafter, the rate decreased continuously until it reached 5.8 % in 2019.
Among the EU Member States, in 2019 the highest proportion of young people (aged 16-29 years) who were severely materially deprived was observed in Greece (19.4 %), followed by Bulgaria (19.1 %), Romania (14.5 %) and Cyprus (11.9 %). Less than 3.0 % of young people were severely materially deprived in the Netherlands, Austria (both at 2.8 %), Germany (2.1 %), Sweden, Luxembourg (both at 2.0 %) and Slovenia (1.8 %) — see Figure 7.
As can also be seen from Figure 7, the severe material deprivation rate for young people (aged 16-29 years) was lower in 2019 than it had been in 2010 in the majority of the EU Member States. Exceptions to this situation were Greece, Ireland, Finland, Luxembourg and Italy, where there were slight increases (the highest in Greece where the rate climbed by 5.4 percentage points). Turning to the 22 Member States with a lower severe material deprivation rate in 2019 than in 2010, the largest percentage point decreases in the rate were observed in Bulgaria (down by 25.2 percentage points), Latvia (20.8 percentage points), Romania (16.4 percentage points) and Hungary (15.5 percentage ponts).
The analysis of several deprivation rates according to whether young people lived with parents or not (see Table 5) does not reveal a high impact of these situations on the indicator. For the EU-27 as a whole there was a little difference in the severe material deprivation rates by age group among young people living with parents: the rates ranged from 5.8 % for those aged 16-19 years to 7.1 % for those aged 25-29 years. For those not living with their parents, the rates were 6.5 % for those aged 20-24 and 4.5 % for 25-29-year-olds.
Concerning young people aged 16-19 years, among 17 Member States with available data, in 13 of them severe material deprivation rates were higher among those not living with parents than those living with parents and in four of them the situation was reversed.
For the age group 20-24 years the situation was a bit different, with only Estonia, Ireland, Croatia, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands and Slovenia recording higher severe material deprivation rates for young people living with parents than those not living with parents.
As concerns the oldest age group — young people aged 25-29 years, 17 Member States reported higher several deprivation rates for those not living with parents.
Living in households with very low work intensity
This section focuses on young people living in households with very low work intensity (defined as households where the members of working age worked on average less than 20 % of their total potential during the 12 months preceding the survey) . People living in such households are more likely to be exposed to social exclusion.
In 2019, 6.7 million people aged 16-29 years in the EU-27 lived in households with very low work intensity, equivalent to 9.0 % of the population of this age group — see Figure 8. This proportion was slightly lower than in 2010 (9.5 %). This proportion went up between 2010 and 2014 (from 9.5 % to 11.6 %), and subsequently declined — somewhat irregularly — in more recent years.
Among the EU Member States, Greece (16.9 %), Denmark (16.8 %) and Ireland (15.0 %) recorded the highest proportions of young people (aged 16-29 years) who lived in households with very low work intensity in 2019. The lowest proportions were registered in Hungary, Slovenia (both 3.9 %) and Czechia (3.8 %). The proportion of young people who were living in households with very low work intensity in Luxembourg was 2.3 times as high in 2019 as it had been in 2010, while in Greece and Cyprus it was more than 1.8 times as high. Lower proportions of young people were living in households with very low work intensity in 2019 (compared with 2010) in 15 Member States (see Figure 9).
As shown in Table 6, in 2019, 8.3 % of young people (aged 16-29 years) living with parents in the EU-27 lived in a household with very low work intensity, whereas among those not living with parents the share was slightly higher, at 9.4 %. Among those living with parents, the share living in a household with very low work intensity was lowest among the youngest age group (7.4 % for those aged 16-19 years) and highest among the oldest age group (11.4 % for those aged 25-29 years); for those not living with parents the data are incomplete, but the share was lower for those aged 25-29 years than for those aged 20-24 years.
For a majority of EU Member States, the share of young people aged 16-29 years living in households with very low work intensity was higher among those not living with parents than those living with their parents. In Denmark and Germany this difference was the largest (rates were around three times higher).
Source data for tables and graphs
The data used in this article are derived from EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC). The legal basis for these data is the framework Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003. EU-SILC is the main European source of information for statistics relating to income, living conditions and social inclusion. The reference population covered by these data 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.
Social exclusion at an early age has the potential to have long-lasting consequences for both individuals and society as a whole as it may affect all aspects of young people’s lives. Data suggest that the decision to move towards an independent life leaving the parental household increases the risk of poverty.
For many young people, looking for a job and sustaining a household is far from easy. Indeed, young people often start with low-paid jobs and underemployment (temporary or part-time), which can lead to financial difficulties. However, this is not always the rule as the risk of poverty for youth depends on numerous other factors, including the general financial situation and the social inclusion policies where they live.
At the European Council held on 17 June 2010, the Member States’ Heads of State and Government endorsed the Europe 2020 strategy, for not only smart and sustainable, but also inclusive growth. One of its headline targets is the reduction of poverty: the main aim is to lift 20 million people out of risk of poverty or social exclusion by 2020. One of the Europe 2020 flagship initiatives is the ‘European platform against poverty and social exclusion’. It states that poverty should be combatted from an early age, as children born into poverty face a substantially higher risk of remaining poor throughout their youth and into adulthood. This is a responsibility of all EU Member States, with the European Commission playing a supporting and coordinating role.
Social inclusion was one of the eight fields of action in the EU Youth Strategy which ran from 2010 to 2018. In May 2018, the European Commission put forward proposals for a new EU youth strategy for the period 2019-2027, where 'Inclusive society' is one of 11 goals.
Theme entry page
- Youth (yth), see:
- Youth social inclusion (yth_incl)
- 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)
- Population structure (ilc_lvps)
- Health and labour conditions (ilc_lvhl)
- Material deprivation (ilc_md)
- Material deprivation by dimension (ilc_mddd)
- Income and living conditions (ESMS metadata file — ilc_esms)
- Households composed only of children, of students aged less than 25 years and/or by people aged 60 years or more are excluded from the computation of this indicator (for both the numerator and denominator). Students aged 18-24 years who live with at least one other person of working age who is not a student are excluded from the computation of the household work intensity, but they are given the household work intensity computed on the basis of the other household members. The same rule applies for children.