Press release, 22 October 2012

Eurofound contributes to EU Presidency conference on ‘Developing sustainable youth employment policies in an era of fiscal constraints’ 22-23 October 2012:

Economic cost of Europe’s youth not in employment, education or training estimated at over €150 billion

(Dublin, Ireland) With unemployment levels for young people at unprecedented levels across the EU, a new report published today by Eurofound reveals how the greatest urgency lies with the 14 million young people currently not in employment, education or training (NEETs). Eurofound’s latest comparative research findings on NEETs show that the economic loss to society of not integrating NEETs is estimated at €153 billion, in addition to the inestimable costs for their disengagement from society in general. The report’s findings will be presented for the first time in full at the EU Presidency Conference on Employment Priorities in Nicosia, Cyprus, on 'Developing sustainable youth employment policies in an era of fiscal constraints'.

Young people in Europe have been hit particularly hard by the recession. Only 33.6% were employed in 2011, the lowest figure ever recorded. The unemployment figures also testify to an appreciably more difficult labour market for young people; since the start of the recession, youth unemployment has risen by 1.5 million, reaching 5.5 million (or 21%) in 2011.

Serious as these statistics may be, they do not adequately capture the situation of young people. Some 7.5 million young people aged 15–24 and an additional 6.5 million young people aged 25–29 were not in employment, education or training. Alarming is not only the amount of people affected, but also the significant increase over time: in 2008, the figure stood at 11% of 15–24 year olds and 13% of 25–29 year olds. By 2011, these had increased to 13% and 15% respectively. There are also huge variations between countries, with rates for 15-24 year olds varying from around 7% in Luxembourg and The Netherlands to above 17% in Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Romania and Spain.

Some young people are at greater risk of being NEET than others. Those with low levels of education are three times more likely to be NEET compared to those with tertiary education, while young people with an immigration background are 70% more likely to become NEET than nationals. Young people suffering from some kind of disability or health issues are 40% more likely to be NEET than those in good health.

Being NEET has a negative effect on the individual as well as on society as a whole. Eurofound estimated that, in 2011 figures, the economic loss due to the disengagement of young people from the labour market was €153 billion. This is a conservative estimate and it corresponds to 1.2% of European GDP. There are, again, great variations between countries, but Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and Poland are paying an especially high price of 2% or more of GDP

Moreover, NEETs are at higher risk of being politically and socially alienated. Eurofound discovered that in comparison with their non-NEET counterparts, NEETs have a dramatically lower level of political interest, political and social engagement, and a lower level of trust. This is in particularly true for NEETs in the English-speaking, and continental and east European countries. However, NEETs in Mediterranean countries seem to have a higher political engagement, with large numbers of young people occupied in the same issues. However, common for all is that they did not identify with the main actors of the political area.

EU Member States have in recent years been actively engaged in designing and implementing measures aimed at re-integrating young people into labour market. Policies that have been implemented to date are very diverse in their aims, objectives and activities. Eurofound argues that young people have to be set on a long-term, sustainable pathway, and that youth employment measures should be client-centred, not provider-focused. They need good-quality, stable and sustainable employment. This includes equipping them with qualifications needed for successful labour market integration.

More information about young people and NEETs at  

For further information, contact Måns Mårtensson, media manager, on email:, telephone: +353-1-2043124, or mobile: +353-876-593 507


Eurofound provides social partners, governments and EU decision makers with relevant, timely and unbiased research results so that the lives of European citizens can be improved.

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