Europe is undergoing significant demographic and societal changes that present challenges to family income, employment, inclusion, and the care and support of children. These studies explore the trends and the policies in response to them.
The economic crisis has deeply affected many public areas through cuts in public spending. In this brief we examine the impact of the economic crisis on child- and family-related benefits in the European Union (EU). We discuss how public policies relating to children and families have been affected and what consequences the crisis might have for child poverty and social exclusion.
This paper focusses on how investment in social services can meet the high demands of an sustainable and integrative growth strategy - on a European level as well as in Austria. The authors argue that a talented workforce, comprised of both men and women, is needed in order to successfully face global competition which requires and intelligent employment strategy, yet this cannot be achieved without social services. It outlines the positive effects of investments in social services using the example of childcare.
In early December, the OECD released its much publicised PISA 2012 results focusing on mathematical literacy in 65 countries: the test was taken by 510,000 students worldwide. Results overviews show that on average in OECD countries, 13% of students can perform at top level in mathematics (levels 5-6), whereas 23% of students in OECD countries cannot reach the baseline (level 2) in the mathematics assessment. Proficiency in maths is a powerful predictor of future outcomes for young people both in terms of participation in tertiary education and future earnings, and the OECD overview highlights that students from a more advantaged socio-economic background scores on average 39 points higher in maths compared to a less advantaged peer (which corresponds to 1 year of schooling).
In April 2013, Save the Children published a report focusing on inequality in education worldwide. The work points to the dangers of poor-quality schooling: while access to basic education has improved, millions of children worldwide are schooled yet do not benefit from the opportunity to gain even basic knowledge. Save the Children recommends setting an ambitious global learning goal as part of the post-2015 development framework. It explores two core themes: the pressures and opportunities which exist in the context of education and development at a global level; and the changing educational context and its impact on learning and equity. Educational inequality (along the lines of gender and wealth), the quality of schooling, emerging demographic pressures, and the effects of a rising middle class are all central themes.
EU kids Online is a multi-national thematic network with the aim to stimulate and coordinate evidence-based investigation into children's online uses, activities, risks and safety. The network, comprising organisations from 33 countries, employs multiple methods to map European children's and parents' changing experience of the internet and follows a continuous dialogue with national and international stakeholders. This comparative report summarises the internet-related experiences of children in the participating countries. For each country, the report presents the key statistics and country-specific commentary on children’s internet access and use, activities and skills, risks and harm, parental mediation and safety, and national policy implications. The country profiles also include recommendations for national policies in awareness-raising, encouraging usage and attending to emerging new forms of internet use.
The central essay of this year’s World Family Map report explores the links between one indicator of family structure (i.e., the number of parents in the household) and children’s educational outcomes in low-, medium-, and high-income countries. It presents strong evidence that children living in two-parent families in middle- and high-income countries are more likely to stay on track in school and demonstrate higher reading literacy than children living with one or no parents. However, this family structure advantage is not found in many low-income countries (mostly in the southern hemisphere). Therefore low-income countries may provide insight about how to strengthen families in a climate of instability, both socially and economically, insofar as those countries rely on extended kin to buffer children from the effects of single parenthood or orphanhood.
Economic uncertainty has become an increasingly important factor in explanations for declining fertility and postponed family formation across Europe. This special issue of Demographic Research, published by the Max Planck Institute, focuses on the interplay between economic conditions and family structure. The issue comprises studies that explore how various dimensions of employment uncertainty, such as temporary working contracts and unemployment, are related to fertility and family formation across Europe. The studies cover Germany, the UK, France, Russia, Estonia, Sweden, Italy, Spain, and Israel. Although the various micro-level studies assembled in this special collection do not provide a simple answer to the question of whether and how economic uncertainty suppresses (or stimulates) fertility, some systematic variation by welfare state regime is discernible.
This report applying foresight tools to the subject area of families identifies future trends in changes to family and household structures as well as driving forces in OECD countries until 2030. Long-term policy challenges arising from these changes as well as policy options for tackling these challenges are discussed on the basis of the three thematic chapters. The report is very innovative because at the time when the project was conducted limited international work on the future of families was available.
This report focuses on young people with health problems or disabilities which have received little attention in employment policy and practice discourse. Eurofound examined the situation of these young people in 11 countries and at European Union (EU) level, assessing the implementation of active inclusion policies for moving them from inactivity into employment at national level. Within 44 case studies on good practices characteristics of service providers and underlying success factors are analysed and provide the basis for recommendations which are applicable across the EU. The study highlights good practice approaches such as flexible benefits, promotion of better school-to-work transitions and taking a pathways-to-employment approaches while stating that there is an overall need for more public policy support for implementation.
The EAF has mobilised its national correspondents within each of the EU-27 Member States to update the country profiles located on the EAF website. The new country profiles for 2012 feature policy developments, recent Eurostat data and other relevant information. This short report presents a synthesis of the data provided by country correspondents, according to the seven EAF policy areas. It forms a helpful tool for policymakers seeking to understand developments in other parts of Europe, and provides examples of good practice to draw upon.
The European Alliance for Families organised a workshop on 21 November 2012 to discuss the use of evidence base in policymaking and three platforms for the identification and evaluation of good practices in family policy: the EAF’s evaluation framework managed by RAND Europe, the Netherlands Youth Institute’s database on ‘Effective youth interventions’ and the ‘Blueprints for Europe’ model to be developed by the Social Research Unit at Dartington University (UK). These initiatives were presented by Stijn Hoorens (RAND Europe), Marjan de Graaf (Netherlands Youth Institute) and Michael Little (The Social Research Unit, Dartington University), followed by a presentation from Juliet Ramage (Eurochild).
Evidence based knowledge is highly valuable, as it can help practitioners apply methods that have proven successful, and policy makers to take decisions of which impact and cost effectiveness can be overseen, provided that system readiness criteria are met, including implementation manuals, cost estimations and dissemination plans to ensure a smooth transferability of practices.
Sharing experiences from the establishment and evaluation of the systems themselves, the participants generally agreed on the importance to apply strict criteria measuring impact, transferability and sustainability to qualify as a best practice, even though the possible inclusion of promising and emerging practices in evaluation frameworks was also appreciated.
Lessons learned from the workshop include the desire to open evaluation frameworks to innovative practices and ways to facilitate the implementation of good practices.
This brief focuses on the impact that demography may have on income inequality in the 2020-2060 horizon, with a view to helping decision-makers factor demographic change into long term strategies for the reduction of inequality and poverty in Europe. Poverty risks and income inequality are complex and interlinked policy challenges. Various indicators suggest that both phenomena have been on the rise in Europe over the past decades. The European Union estimates that more than 80 million people in the EU are at risk of poverty, whilst in-work poverty rates revolve around 8%. As part of the Europe 2020 targets, the EU aims to reduce the number of people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion by 20 million.
The ‘2012 Ageing Report: Economic and budgetary projections for the EU27 Member States (2010-2060)’ is a joint report prepared by the European Commission (Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs, DG ECFIN) and the Economic Policy Committee (EPC). Based on new population projection by Eurostat, the report presents long-term projections of budgetary impacts of ageing for all 27 EU Member States (period 2010 to 2060). The report is now in its fourth edition since 2001 and its long-term economic and budgetary projections are used for various assessments (sustainability of public finances, impact of ageing on labour market, economic growth) and feed into policy debates at EU level, e.g. the Europe 2020 growth strategy. The first part of the report outlines the underlying demographic and macroeconomic assumptions on population projections, labour force projections, labour productivity and GDP, and deals with the following topics in the subsequent chapters: pensions, healthcare expenditure, long-term care, education, and unemployment benefits expenditure.
The report presents an analysis of current youth unemployment in European labour markets with a special focus on young people not in employment, education or training (NEET group). It deals with factors that determine how young people become part of the NEET group, and economic and social costs of NEETs. It furthermore offers an assessment of how successful policy interventions on EU Member-State level target young people as a specific sub-group of the NEET population by developing pathways to long-term, sustainable employment. More information on NEETs and an overview of recent Eurofound publications on this topic can be also found here.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities explicitly acknowledges the critical role played by families for the promotion of human rights and the inclusion of persons with disabilities in society. By voluntary will or obligation, families are particularly likely to undertake a caring role and remain the first and most immediate environment where people with disabilities can develop their potential and enjoy a fulfilling life. The concrete realization of the rights of persons with disabilities is strictly interdependent with the quality of life of their family members. The publication consists of the coface position on the family dimension of the UNCRPD, an outcome of the work done by its members within coface-disability, followed by the integral text of the Convention.
This issue of Foundation Focus, published by Eurofound, examines the effects of the crisis on the situation of young people in Europe. It highlights that youth unemployment rates have reached unprecedented levels in Europe, and attempts to estimate the cost of young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEETs). The issue also assesses good practice when it comes to integration of young people with disabilities, and outlines solutions to combat youth unemployment such as youth mobility and national initiatives.
This annual review on Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) brings together for the first time a comprehensive analysis of challenges facing the EU in the areas of both employment and social policy. Replacing two previous reports – Employment in Europe and the Social Situation Report, the ESDE becomes the European Commission’s flagship analytical review on employment and social issues. It builds on the Quarterly Reviews of the EU Employment and Social Situation which the Commission has started producing in 2011 and provides detailed analysis of key structural developments. The 2011 edition focuses on changes in Europe’s job structure, recent increases in income inequalities, the varying patterns of poverty and social exclusion, the problem of in-work poverty, challenges and measures in the area of active ageing, and provides an updated analysis of intra-EU labour mobility.
The Joint Employment Report (JER) is part of the Commission package to launch the 2012 European Semester. “The JER underpins and expands on key employment messages contained in the Annual Growth Survey.” Analysis and recommendations "are based on the European employment and social situation, the implementation of the Employment Guidelines as well as on the results of country examination of the National Reform Programmes."
This OECD report focuses on inequality increases in a large majority of OECD countries. The OECD states that “in the three decades prior to the recent economic downturn, wage gaps widened and household income inequality in a large majority of OECD countries.” This trend was observed “even when countries were going through a period of sustained economic and employment growth”. The report explains the underlying forces and gives an overview of growing income inequalities in OECD countries with a special focus on inequality in emerging economies.
This 2011 publication looks at different ways in which governments support families. It first presents a range of work, family and child outcomes and then provides answers to a range of research questions: “Is spending on family benefits going up, and how does it vary by the age of the child? Has the crisis affected public support for families? What is the best way of helping adults to have the number of children they desire? What are the effects of parental leave programmes on female labour supply and on child well-being? Are childcare costs a barrier to parental employment and can flexible workplace options help? What is the best time for mothers to go back to work after childbirth? And what are the best policies to reduce poverty among sole parents?”
This second FAMILYPLATFORM book contains the edited volumes of the Online Journals produced by the project on the following themes: Structures and Forms, Solidarities in Contemporary European Families, Demography and the Family in Europe, and Volunteering and Families. The publication looks at important cross-cutting issues affecting families in Europe.
The project also produced a series of further publications.
One of the key objectives of the FAMILYPLATFORM project has been to examine future situations and challenges that European families might face.
This report is the result of the joint work of family experts, NGOs and policymakers. It describes possible scenarios and kinds of families, as well as topics that will have an impact on family wellbeing in 2035. These include the importance of intergenerational solidarity and communities, the influence of time on wellbeing, the issue of unpaid work care arrangements, and questions about children's rights and best interests.
FAMILYPLATFORM project aimed to develop and publish a European Research Agenda for Research on Families and Family Policy, in order to enable policy makers and others to respond to current and future challenges facing families. This publication gathers all the final reports of the Family Platform work on Major Trends, Critical Review, Future of Families, and the Research Agenda.
The report is an outcome of the conference “Families and Family Policies in Europe – A Critical Review”, which took place in Lisbon in May 2010 and was organised within the framework of the Family Platform project. The conference carried out a critical review of existing research on families and family policies in Europe. Drawing on expert reviews of the state of the art, critical statements by stakeholders and policy makers, and debate on the major challenges for research and policies, the conference provided a forum for discussing and identifying the design of future family policies and research. The report was prepared by Karin Wall, Mafalda Leitão, and Vasco Ramos, from the ICS ‐ University of Lisbon.
This 2010 study addresses the concept of care, studying the dimensions that are based on an ethic of responsibility toward others, going beyond family support to the gradual recognition of new social rights that pose new political challenges. The report analyses the needs of young people, the elderly, the ill and disabled, and those of caregivers themselves and looks at the response to these demands for care.
The economic crisis has had, and is still having, a large impact on the well-being of families in the European Union. The severity of the crisis, the ability of governments to respond to it, and the actual responses adopted vary however widely across Member States. This report by Anne Gauthier attempts to present an analytical overview of the impact of the crisis on the supply of, and demand for, family policies.
The ageing European population has prompted Europe to promote active ageing via policies to include elderly citizens in the labour market, focusing on gender issues given the higher vulnerability of older women in the labour market. The report looks at the employment and activities of men and women aged 55-64 and 65-74 in Europe, and draws out best practice and strategies for active ageing across different areas. These include labour market participation, the development of an age-friendly environment, lifelong learning, long-term care, housing and transport. The report recommends seizing the opportunity presented by active ageing rather than focusing on the challenges inherent in an ageing population, and offers alternative strategies in the areas studied.
This report by Henning Lohmann, Frauke H. Peter, Tine Rostgaard, and C. Katharina Spiess provides a first attempt at a framework for assessing the performance of national family policies. The idea behind the framework is to allow individual countries to compare their overall performance in the area of family policies. The indicators have been selected according to their importance and relevance for three overall policy goals: child wellbeing, gender equality, and balancing work and family life. No ranking of countries has been made.
This literature review takes stock of the available knowledge about the parental costs of raising children across the European Union and the effectiveness of various policies introduced to compensate for these costs. The report was prepared for the European Commission by Marie-Thérèse Letablier, Angela Luci, Antoine Math and Olivier Thévenon.
Every two years the European Commission publishes a report which provides the latest facts and figures that are needed to assess where Member States stand in responding to the challenges of demographic change. The 2008 report focuses on the ageing society and changing family and household patterns in the EU.
Education systems around the world are increasingly focussing on the evaluation of students, teachers and schools as part of their drive to help students do better and improve results. However, they often face difficulties in implementing evaluation and assessment policies. This report provides an international comparative analysis and policy advice to countries on how evaluation and assessment arrangements can be embedded within a consistent framework to improve the quality, equity and efficiency of school education. It builds upon a major 3-year review of evaluation and assessment policies in 28 countries, the OECD Review on Evaluation and Assessment Frameworks for Improving School Outcomes, one of the largest international studies of educational evaluation ever conducted. As well as analysing strengths and weaknesses of different approaches, the report provides recommendations for improvement including how results should be incorporated into policy and practice.
YEM consists of fifteen Joint Programmes worldwide to support interventions promoting decent and sustainable employment for young people. It aims to enhance national and local capacity for the development, implementation and monitoring of effective youth employment and migration policies. The brochure outlines the work and findings of the Knowledge Management Facility, which was established to connect these 15 programmes and promote cross-country sharing of experience, data and tools, and has been instrumental in identifying and documenting successful practices within these programmes.
In 2011 The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published a report on the hurdles which migrants living ‘irregularly’ have to face, particularly regarding their access to fundamental rights to healthcare, or the education of their children. The report explained the great difficulties enrolling in school which separated children face, which are often exacerbated by problems with documentation, funding, and the enforcement practices of certain Member States. Another highlight was the uncertainty which recent changes in national law have created amongst local authorities and educational institutions.
This document by the European Parliament provides an analysis of the application of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and on Rights of the Child across 18 EU Member States. It examines EU legal frameworks and the legal framework of the countries studied, and notes that overall, the rights of children with disabilities are recognised legally, yet the implementation of legislation can still give rise to day-to-day issues for children with disabilities. To facilitate the lives of disabled children, the report proposes recommendations for the EU, such as ensuring that the forthcoming European Accessibility Act fosters the development of appropriate tools for engaging with disabled children in consultations on decisions affecting them.
The OECD has recently released the 2013 edition of Education at a Glance. The report contains a compilation of OECD education statistics across five main themes: education levels and student numbers, higher education and work, the economic and social benefits of education, paying for education, and the school environment. The data provides findings across a broad range of areas within these themes. For instance, within the section on education levels, OECD data reveals that 15 year olds that have attended pre-primary, early childhood and care tend to perform better in PISA exams.