Is the European Union failing its young? That is the question raised in the European Intergenerational Fairness Index, produced by UK-based charitable think tank, the Intergenerational Foundation.
The European Intergenerational Fairness Index (IF EU Index 2016) paints an increasingly bleak picture of the prospects of the young across Europe, with their plight deteriorating to a 10-year low in the last year recorded. You can read the full report here.
Youth poverty has increased, youth unemployment is chronic in many countries, the pay gap between the young and the population average is widening, while the cost of housing for the young is rising relentlessly.
And this is at a time when many countries continue to struggle from the fallout of the global financial crisis, with national debt spiralling ever upwards, and increasing strain placed on welfare systems.
Add to this the sudden, though welcome, increase in lifespans seen by many across Europe and there appears to be an emerging intergenerational crisis unfolding as states endeavour to maintain health and pension spending on the old, while stalling in their investment in the young. But, the young cannot carry the burden of an ageing population without themselves having decent jobs, wages and fair living standards.
This research suggests that EU governments and the European Commission should explicitly assess all policies for their impact on younger and future citizens. In particular, the EU should adhere more strictly to the debt-to-GDP levels laid out in the Stability and Growth Pact, should raise retirement ages more rapidly and should invest more in education. EU countries are all suffering from low democratic participation by their young people, but young people across Europe know that their interests are too often sacrificed to those of the older generations.
The Index is the culmination of more than two years of research. This could not have been achieved without the help of Jeremy Leach, independent researcher, and researchers from Royal Holloway and the University of Oxford.
We would also like to thank the Open Society Foundations for its invaluable financial support that has allowed the creation of this interactive tool, which was built by Kiln.
IF is a non-party-political vehemently independent charitable think tank based in London. IF researches fairness between generations and questions whether the current intergenerational compact is fair to all: the old, the young and those to come. Our research and education work covers housing, health, education, employment, taxation, pensions, wealth transfers, and the environment.
For further information on the work of IF, or for media enquiries, please contact Liz Emerson, IF Co-Founder. Email: [email protected]; mobile: 0044 (0) 7971 228823.