Living and working in Europe

Living and working in Europe 2016

A snapshot of social, employment and work-related developments in the EU in 2016 and the effect they have on citizens living and working across 28 Member States.

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 2013–2016, Eurofound provided high-quality, timely and policy-relevant knowledge as input to better informed social, employment and work-related policies in Europe.

The 2016 yearbook highlights the latest developments in the work and lives of Europeans, describing trends and transitions in the areas of employment and jobs, win–win workplace practices, working life and quality of life.

It also reflects back over Eurofound’s contribution to the policy debate in the previous four-year programming period and looks forward to how ongoing research can inform the discussion on achieving a fair and competitive Europe into the future.


Let’s look in more detail at a few highlights stemming from Eurofound’s research in 2016.

Quality of life Integrating refugees and asylum seekers

The labour market integration of refugees and asylum seekers is vital for both their social inclusion and Europe’s economic and political cohesion. Integrating these new migrants is not simply a question of skills and legal procedures, but it also means looking at living conditions, geographical distribution, incentives for employers and education. Research looked at the barriers to employment that many of the migrants that have made the treacherous journey to Europe over the past two years currently face and explored moves by Member States to reduce these barriers.

"A broader consensus is developing that the effective integration of refugees and asylum seekers should be a priority for Europe as a whole. However, we are a long way from this objective."

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Klára Fóti, Research manager

Working lifeSixth European Working Conditions Survey

The results of the sixth European Working Conditions Survey were published in 2016. The survey provides an in-depth account of people’s current experience of work in Europe and an overview of working lives through the focus of job quality.

The survey gathered detailed data on almost every aspect of working life, from working time to relationships with colleagues to opportunities for training, from nearly 44,000 workers in 35 countries across Europe – the EU28, five EU candidate countries, Norway and Switzerland.

To give a clear insight into what all this data says about job quality, Eurofound developed seven indices representing different dimensions of job quality:

  • Physical environment
  • Work intensity
  • Working time quality
  • Social environment
  • Skills and discretion
  • Prospects
  • Earnings

Those jobs that scored similarly on the seven job quality indices were grouped together in five job quality profiles. The data show a diverse and heterogeneous labour market, where one in five workers has a 'poor quality' job.

Click on each profile to see the patterns in job quality.

Employment and jobs The gender employment gap

The 10.5 percentage point difference between the employment rates of men and women in the EU is a significant economic and social cost to the EU economy, estimated at around €370 billion. This is around 2.8% of the EU’s gross domestic product and represents forgone earnings and missed welfare contributions of individuals to society, as well as public finance costs, comprising individual welfare transfers and social benefits.

AT BE BG CY CZ DE DK EE EL ES FI FR HR HU IE IT LT LV MK NL PL PT RO SE SI SK TR UK NO BY UA MD CS BA AL CH ME MT LU < 1.5% 1.5%–2.5% 3.5%–4.5% 2.5%–3.5% > 4.5%

"In many countries a cultural shift in tackling the persistence of gender stereotypes and fostering a shared and more equal division of family responsibility is also urgently required."

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Martina Bisello, Research officer

Win–win workplace practices New forms of employment

Social, economic and technological changes in Europe have given rise to nine new forms of employment, many very different from traditional "work". To identify emerging trends on these new forms of employment, research in 2016 looked in particular at the win–win potential of strategic employee sharing for both employers and employees.

"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."

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Irene Mandl, Head of Unit

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

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

As Eurofound moves into its new work programme for 2017–2020, research will fall into six main areas. Subscribe to Eurofound updates on these areas:

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