24 January 2023
Social inclusion is a process that ensures citizens have the opportunities and resources necessary to participate fully in economic, social and cultural life and to enjoy a standard of living and well-being that is considered normal in the society in which they live.Read more
Social inclusion is a process that ensures citizens have the opportunities and resources necessary to participate fully in economic, social and cultural life and to enjoy a standard of living and well-being that is considered normal in the society in which they live. It encompasses, but is not restricted to, social integration or better access to the labour market, and also includes equal access to facilities, services and benefits. It is a concept that is now central to the European policy agenda.Read less
Social inclusion is at the core of the European Social Model and European values enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. It is a cornerstone of the European Pillar of Social Rights and a priority of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.Read more
Social inclusion is at the core of the European Social Model and European values enshrined in the Lisbon Treaty. It is a cornerstone of the European Pillar of Social Rights and a priority of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Promoting social inclusion, in particular through the reduction of poverty, is at the heart of creating a more equal and cohesive society. Preserving and creating new jobs is also essential for social inclusion and active participation in society. On 4 March 2021, the European Commission presented its action plan to fully implement the European Pillar of Social Rights, turning its principles into concrete actions to benefit EU citizens, while also supporting the recovery from the impact of COVID-19. Chapter 3 of the Social Pillar focuses on 10 principles to promote social protection and inclusion. To reduce inequalities, the Commission proposes a new target for the EU to reduce the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion by at least 15 million by 2030, including at least 5 million children.
The EU Youth Strategy 2019–2027 is about 'engaging', 'empowering' and 'connecting' young people and aims to foster the participation of young people in democratic life, support their social and civic engagement and ensure that they have the necessary resources to take part in society. The policy emphasis has been on promoting youth employment as the key pathway to achieving social inclusion, via measures such as the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative.
The risk of becoming socially excluded is rising among older people in some countries and among some of those who have left the labour market. Long-term unemployment and job insecurity are leading to increasing inequalities and poverty risks among many older Europeans. In searching for measures promoting the social inclusion of the older population who have already left the labour market, more attention is being paid to measures encouraging volunteering, supporting social engagement in old age and healthy ageing.
- European Commission: The European Pillar of Social Rights in 20 principles
- European Commission: European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan
- European Commission: EU Youth Strategy (2019–2027)
Eurofound monitors social inclusion through its survey work and, in more specific studies, it explores and evaluates policy efforts to achieve greater social inclusion.Read more
Eurofound monitors social inclusion through its survey work and, in more specific studies, it explores and evaluates policy efforts to achieve greater social inclusion.
Social inclusion and quality of life
Eurofound’s European Quality of Life Survey (EQLS) provides a means to monitor and assess outcomes of social progress, such as well-being and social inclusion. A range of data can complement the social indicators used to monitor policy outcomes, such as those of the European Social Scoreboard, which accompanies the Social Pillar.
Young people and NEETs
Although youth unemployment has recovered in recent years, some EU countries still have stubbornly high youth unemployment rates. Young people, especially those not in employment, education or training (NEETs), are at high risk of social exclusion, with severe consequences both for the individuals themselves and also for the economy and society as a whole. Eurofound has looked into how the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted young people.
- Publication: Impact of COVID-19 on young people in the EU
A Eurofound study on long-term unemployed youth shows how long-term disengagement dramatically affects several dimensions of young people’s well-being, with long-term impacts. It decreases overall life satisfaction and, importantly, increases the risk of social exclusion, while also decreasing optimism about the future.
Research on the social inclusion of young people looks at the disadvantages arising from being outside the labour market or education. It explores EU strategies aimed at promoting the social inclusion of these vulnerable young people, focusing in particular on the operation of the Youth Guarantee to combat youth unemployment. Access to jobs is not an option for all young people so the study also looks at measures to promote engagement in social and civil activities.
Other young people with a disability or other health problem are at high risk of becoming NEET and face difficulties for social and economic engagement. Research has looked at active inclusion policy for these young people in a number of EU Member States.
Living conditions of older people
Eurofound research on the impact of COVID-19 on the living conditions of older people and their care needs looks at factors affecting social inclusion and quality of life. Its looks at volunteering, caring activities, social interaction and loneliness.
Being in work reduces the risk of poverty and social exclusion. However, Eurofound research on in-work poverty in the EU has highlighted that the ‘working poor’ are a substantial group, with around 10% of European workers at risk of poverty. The working poor face significantly more social problems than the population as a whole, such as lower levels of subjective and mental well-being, problems with accommodation, as well as poorer relationships with other people and feelings of social exclusion.
Other vulnerable groups
Research has also examined the groups within the inactive population that find it difficult to enter or re-enter the labour market and why. It looked at strategies in the Member States to promote the inclusion of those economically inactive groups that fall outside the labour market and those with household debt problems.Read less
Key outputs over the years
Publications & dataTop
The sections below provide access to a range of publications, data and ongoing work on this topic.
- Publications (133)
- Ongoing work
Eurofound publications come in a variety of formats, including reports, policy briefs, blogs, articles and presentations.
Access to essential services for people on low incomes: Energy, public transport and digital communicationsPublication 7 September 2022
A selection of related data on this topic are linked below.
Research continues in this topic on a variety of themes, which are outlined below with links to forthcoming titles.
Other ongoing work
- Mapping developments in advisory for household debt in EU countries as well as identifying barriers to access these services to combat poverty and assessing take-up
- Analysing differences and inequalities in access to social services of general interest in the EU and assessing the nature and extent of convergence/divergence
- Report on regional convergence and inequalities, which investigates evolutions of social imbalances (e.g. unemployment, social exclusion, poverty) at the regional level and examines the relationship between growth, regional disparities and interpersonal inequalities