Young people - social inclusion
Data extracted in February 2022.
Planned article update: February 2023.
In 2020, the rate of young people aged 15-29 years at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU was 25.4 %, or 18.1 million young people, with women at slightly higher risk than men.
In 2020, at EU level, young people aged 16-29 not living with their parents were more at risk-of-poverty (25.9 %) than those living with their parents (17.8 %).
Between 2015 and 2019, the severe material deprivation rate for young people aged 15-29 years in the EU fell from 8.4 % to 5.4 %. However, it increased to 6.5 % in 2020.
In 2020, 9 % of people aged 15-29 years in the EU lived in households with very low work intensity.
This article presents statistics on the social inclusion of young people (aged 15-29 years, or in the case of a few indicators 16-29) in the European Union (EU), as well as in several EFTA countries 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 and social 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, Figure 1 presents basic information on the proportion of young people living with their parents. In 2020, the share of young people (aged 16-29 years) living with their parents was 67.2 % in the EU: for young men the share was 71.6 % while for young women it was 62.7 %, a gap of 8.9 percentage points (p.p.).
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 p.p.) and Slovenia (15.9 p.p.) while the lowest were in Sweden (2.0 p.p.) and Ireland (2.9 p.p.).
The largest shares of young men living with their parents were recorded in Croatia (92.7 %), Greece (88.5 %) and Slovakia (87.6 %) while for young women the largest shares were in Croatia (86.4 %), Italy (83.8 %, 2019 data) and Portugal (83.3 %). The lowest percentages were recorded in Denmark (32.0 % for young men and 24.8 % for young women), Finland (41.9 % and 29.2 % respectively) and Sweden (42.3 % and 40.3 % respectively).
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 and social deprivation rate and the share of people living in 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 2020, the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rate for young people aged 15-29 years was 25.4 % in the EU, corresponding to about 18.1 million young people. The share of young people at risk of poverty or social exclusion decreased by 3.9 percentage points (p.p.) between 2015 and 2019. On the other hand, it has increased by 1.1 p.p. in 2020 compared with 2019 (see Figure 2).
In 2020, the EU Member States with the highest levels of young people (aged 15-29 years) at risk of poverty or social exclusion were Romania (37.6 %), Greece (32.8 %) and Bulgaria (32.3 %), while the lowest rates were found in Slovakia (12.8 %), Slovenia (12.2 %), and Czechia (10.7 %). Among non-member countries, high rates were also recorded in Albania (48.2 %, 2019 data), Montenegro (39.0 %), Turkey (36.3 %) and North Macedonia (33.8 %, 2019 data), while low rates were recorded in one of the EFTA countries for which data is available, Switzerland (16.6 %).
Figure 3 also shows that at EU level young women (aged 15-29 years) had slightly higher at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rates than young men. This was also the case in 20 EU Member States, with the difference being highest in Austria (4.0 p.p.), followed by Hungary (3.9 p.p.). In six Member States, young women had lower at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion rates than men; the biggest differences were observed in Estonia (4.8 p.p.) and Portugal (1.5 p.p.). In Lithuania, there is no difference between the at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion of the two genders. However, it must be noted that these figures are highly influenced by the percentage of young people of each gender living with their parents or not, which varies greatly between countries. Young people who left the parental household are much more exposed to poverty or social exclusion.
In general, a smaller share of persons aged 25-29 years (an estimated 21.7 % in 2020 at EU level) were at risk of poverty or social exclusion than was the case for persons aged 20-24 years (28.0 %) or 15-19 years (26.7 %). Those aged 20-24 had the highest risk, at EU level. This was also the case in a majority of the EU Member states. However, there were also exceptions, namely in Lithuania, Hungary and Austria where this age category had actually the lowest risk in being poor or socially deprived. In most EU member states those aged 15-19 had the second lowest risk of poverty or social exclusion, while in the case of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands they had the lowest rates of poverty or social exclusion (see Table 1).
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 at 20.8 in 2020 for those aged 15-29, slightly higher for young women (21.4 %) than for young men (20.2 %) (see Figure 4). This trend was noted in a majority of Member States, with the exception of Estonia, Sweden, Croatia, Italy (2019 data), Luxembourg, Latvia, Portugal, Slovenia, Ireland and Belgium. In Slovakia and Finland the at risk of poverty rates were the same between the two genders for the age group 15-29. The highest at risk of poverty rates for young women were found in Romania (27.6 %), Germany (26.7 %) and Denmark (26.0 %), while for young men in Romania (26.5 %), Luxembourg (25.8 %) and Sweden (24.9 %). The lowest rates for young men and young women were found in Czechia (8.1 % and 10.2 % respectively), Slovenia (10.0 % and 9.8 %)) and Malta (10.6 % and 10.8 %).
Table 2 presents the at-risk-of-poverty rates for young people with an analysis by age group. In 2020, a higher rate of young people at risk of poverty in the EU was observed among young people aged 20-24 (23.7 %) and those aged 15-19 (22.4 %) than those aged 25-29 (16.6 %). However, it can be noted than in a majority of Member States (19 out 27), the age group with the highest risk of poverty is the 15-19 year olds, while in 7 of the remaining ones (Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden) it is the 20-24 year olds.
Figure 5 shows that in 2020 at EU level, young people 16-29 not living with their parents were more at risk-of-poverty (25.9 %) than those living with their parents (17.8 %). On the other hand, in 17 of the EU Member States, living or not with parents (for the broad category 16-29) 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 p.p.. In five of these 17 Member States — Poland, Malta, Portugal, Latvia and Slovakia — the rates were in fact higher for young people living with parents than for those not living with parents. In the other 10 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 (29.1 p.p.) and in the Netherlands (19.5 p.p.). This trend was also very visible in Norway, where the difference between the two categories was even higher, reaching 31.5 p.p.
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 13 specific items that are considered to be necessary or desirable, 7 at the household level: 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 car for personal use when desired; to replace worn out furniture and 6 at the individual level: having internet connection; replacing worn-out clothes by some new ones; having two pairs of properly fitting shoes (including a pair of all-weather shoes); spending a small amount of money each week on him/herself; having regular leisure activities; getting together with friends/family for a drink/meal at least once a month. The severe material and social 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 seven or more of the thirteen items are considered to be severely materially or socially deprived.
In 2020, the severe material and social deprivation rate for young people (aged 15-29) in the EU stood at 6.5 %, which was higher than it had been in 2019 (see Figure 6). From 2015 to 2019 the rate decreased continuously, from 8.4 % to 5.4 %.
Among the EU Member States, in 2020 the highest proportion of young people (aged 15-29 years) who were severely materially deprived was observed in Romania (24.1 %), followed by Bulgaria (21.0 %) and Greece(15.7 %). Less than 3.0 % of young people were severely materially or socially deprived in eleven Member States — see Figure 7. This was also the case for the two EFTA countries for which data is available (Norway and Switzerland). On the other hand, the proportion of severely materially or socially deprived young people were higher than 10.0 % in the candidate countries for which data is available (Montenegro, Turkey and Serbia).
As can also be seen from Figure 7, the severe material or social deprivation rate for young people (aged 15-29 years) was higher in 2020 than it had been in 2019 in eleven EU Member States. The highest increases were found in Romania, Ireland and Germany, for which the rate climbed by more than 3 p.p.. Turning to the fifteen Member States with a lower severe material deprivation rate in 2020 than in 2019, the largest percentage point decreases in the rate were observed in Slovakia (-2.1 p.p.) and Finland (-1.4 p.p.). A similar decrease was noted in the two EFTA countries for which data is available, while two of the three candidate countries for which 2020 data is available experienced notable increases.
The analysis of severe deprivation rates according to the age group of young people (see Table 3) reveals that in general the differences between the age groups are smaller than in the case of the at risk of poverty. A clear pattern emerges, as in a majority (nineteen of them) of Member States, the most deprived category is the youngest (15-19), which is also the case at the EU level (7.0 % in 2020, compared to 6.3 % for those aged 20-24 and 6.0 % for those aged 25-29). This is also the case for the candidate countries. On the other hand, in three member States (Germany, Malta and Italy) and the two EFTA countries for which data is available (Norway and Switzerland) the reverse is true, the most deprived category is the age group 25-29.
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 2020, 6.2 million people aged 15-29 years in the EU 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 higher than in 2019, when it stood at 8.5 %. After a slight increase between 2015 and 2016 (from 10.4 % to 10.7 %), this proportion went down until 2019 (from 10.7 % to 8.5 %), and subsequently recently increased. The same trend can be noticed for all young age groups, the only small difference being that for the youngest age group (15-19) there was no increase between 2015 and 2016.
Among the EU Member States, Denmark (14.5 %) Greece (13.7 %), and Belgium (11.7 %) recorded the highest proportions of young people (aged 15-29 years) who lived in households with very low work intensity in 2020. The lowest proportions were registered in Slovenia (3.4 %) Poland (3.6 %) and Slovakia (3.8 %). The proportion of young people who were living in households with very low work intensity has increased between 2019 and 2020 at the EU level, as well as in nine Member States, one EFTA country (Norway) and one candidate country (Turkey). The highest increases were noted in Luxembourg (2.6 p.p.), Germany (2.4 p.p.) and France (1.8 p.p.). There were lower proportions of young people living in households with very low work intensity in 2020 (compared with 2019) in the remaining seventeen Member States for which data is available, as well as Switzerland amongst the EFTA countries and Serbia and Montenegro amongst the candidate countries (see Figure 9).
As shown in Table 4, in 2020 at EU level the proportion of young people living in households with very low work intensity is higher amongst the oldest age group, 24-29 (9.8 %), compared to the 20-24 year olds (8.9 %) and 15-19 (8.2 %). However, this pattern is repeated only in eleven of the Member States, while the remaining sixteen are split equally between the ones in which the category 15-19 is the one with the highest proportion in the low work intensity category and the ones in which this is the case for the 20-24 year old. The differences between the age categories are in some Member States very small, while in others they are really notable. For example, in Denmark the risk of living in a very low work intensity household for the oldest age group amongst young people (25-29) is six times higher than for the youngest age group (15-19).
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 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.
On 25 June 2021, the European Council welcomed the EU headline targets of the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, in line with the Porto Declaration. One of these three headline targets is the reduction of poverty: the main aim is to lift 15 million people out of risk of poverty or social exclusion by 2030. 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. The new youth strategy has been adopted in 2021.
Direct access to
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 64 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.