Unemployed young cost Europe €153bln a year

Reuters / Susana Vera
As many as 14 million young unemployed Europeans cost the region’s economy about 153 billion euro a year or 1.2% of the EU's gross domestic product, according to the study from the Eurofond research agency.

­The study discovered the number of young people, aged 15 to 29 who are not in employment, education or training – so-called NEETs- reached a record level during recent years. NEETs account for 15% of the total young adult population in the EU. In 2011 13% of young Europeans aged 15-24 and 20% of those aged 24-29 were out of the labor market, compared to 11% and 17% in 2008, according to Eurostat. However rates vary widely from around 5.5% of 15-24 year olds in the Netherlands to 22.7% in Italy.

The total costs associated with the rising numbers of NEETs are €10.8bn in public finance and €142.1bn in estimated loss of output, according to the research. In some countries, such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and Poland NEETs cost 2% or more of their GDPs. But these figures don’t include extra spending on crime or health care, researchers warn.

But the economic cost is not the main concern. Young NEETs are more likely to become engaged in risk-related behaviors such as alcohol, drug abuse, and crime with the risk of “opting out of democratic participation in society.” They also have a lower level of level of interest and engagement in politics and lower level of trust in society.

The research found out that young people with low levels of education are three times more likely to be NEET than those with higher education. The young people from an immigration background are 70% more likely to be out of labor market than nationals. While having a disability or health problems is also a strong risk factor.

The number of young adults in work across the EU is the lowest on record with 30%, or 5.8 million young adults in the region in part-time employment, a 9% increase over a decade, according to the report. In 2011 42% of young Europeans were in temporary employment, up from just over a third in 2001. Last month the International Labour Organisation reported that worldwide, young people were three times more likely to be unemployed than adults.