Living and working in Europe 2017

Living and working in Europe 2017

A snapshot of the working lives, employment circumstances and living conditions of citizens of the European Union in 2017, of the progress we have made and the challenges that remain.

The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) is a tripartite European Union agency. We provide knowledge in the area of social, employment and work-related policies. Over the period 2017–2020, Eurofound’s goal is to provide scientifically sound, unbiased, timely and policy-relevant knowledge that contributes to better informed policies for upward convergence of living and working conditions in Europe.

The 2017 yearbook focuses on the latest developments in the work and lives of the people of Europe, describing trends and transitions in the areas of labour market change, industrial relations, working conditions and sustainable work, quality of life and public services, the digital age, and convergence in the European Union.

It also highlights the contribution that Eurofound’s 2017–2020 work programme will make to well-designed policies in these areas to support upward convergence of living and working conditions.


Let’s look in more detail at a few highlights stemming from Eurofound’s research in 2017.

Labour market change Expanding the European workforce

Employment growth beat expectations in 2017, with more people than ever before employed and active in the labour market. It is important, nevertheless, to look beyond the headline indicators to see what else is happening in labour markets. Taking account of the numbers of unemployed people, involuntary part-timers and inactive people who are willing to work – somewhat over 40 million people in all – the supply of labour currently well outstrips demand. With an ageing population and declining fertility rates, the need to reintegrate these groups into the labour market is inescapable.


Irene Mandl, Head of Unit, Employment

Industrial relations Comparing industrial relations systems across Europe

The EU encompasses a diversity of industrial relations systems that are evolving in response to political and economic developments; many were weakened during the crisis. Against this backdrop, Eurofound has created a tool to systematically monitor and analyse how Europe’s industrial relations systems adapt to post-crisis times and to follow their evolution in the years ahead. The tool comprises a dashboard of 45 indicators derived from the four key dimensions of industrial relations: industrial democracy, industrial competitiveness, social justice, and quality of work and employment.

David Foden, Adviser - Industrial relations

Working conditions and sustainable work Sharing caring

Working time policies need to take account of workers’ differing needs over the course of their lives. People are most likely to want to reduce their working hours when they are parents of young children and when they are approaching retirement. At the same time, the lack of work–life balance is most pronounced during these two periods. Better work–life balance has an implicit societal value linked to gender equality and quality of life. It could also boost labour supply by removing a barrier for those who find it difficult to reconcile rigid working arrangements with family commitments

Barbara Gerstenberger, Head of Unit, Working Life

Quality of life and public services Quality of life in Europe

The main message from Eurofound’s European Quality of Life Survey in 2017 was that there has been progress on the three key areas of its remit: quality of life, quality of society and quality of public services – though not in all Member States and not for all social groups.

"New forms of employment present a number of opportunities for Europe, but striking a balance between the protection of workers and the practical needs of employers is essential."

Robert Anderson, Head of Unit, Social Policies

These are some of the findings from a broad range of research topics at Eurofound.

Eurofound is committed to ensuring that the knowledge it generates will contribute to effective policies that lead to the improvement of quality of life and work in a fair and competitive Europe.

For its 2017–2020 work programme, Eurofound is carrying out research in six main areas of living and working conditions.
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