Major trends in society

April 2010

Europe’s workforce needs improved knowledge to compete globally

Strategies aimed at developing better quality workplaces and allowing workers to develop their abilities in a more secure employment environment are needed to help industries remain competitive. Action is needed at EU level to monitor working conditions across industries and state boundaries to prevent rising inequality between regions, sectors and worker categories, according to new research......more

May 2010

Fewer irregular migrants in Europe than previously thought

The actual number of irregular immigrants entering and staying in the European Union is largely unknown, and the reliability of figures varies considerably. However, a new country-by-country analysis estimates that in early 2008, 1.9 to 3.8 million irregular immigrants were living in the 27 EU Member States, lower than previous estimates of between 4 and 8 million. The robust review, carried out by the CLANDESTINO project, provides a database and a critical appraisal of the reliability of available data and estimates......more

May 2010

Restrictions do not halt flow of undocumented workers

EU Member States are trying to restrict undocumented economic migration by means including quotas, restrictions on access to welfare rights such as healthcare and tightening controls on family reunion, according to recent research. However despite these measures, undocumented migration continues and workers without papers are driven to take the most marginal and dangerous jobs......more

June 2010

How do Europe’s schools treat minority ethnic youth?

Compulsory education in Europe shows signs of failing sizeable groups of children who are either not receiving primary education, leaving school without learning basic literacy and numeracy skills, or dropping out of secondary school before gaining any of the qualifications needed to get a job. As children from poor families of minority ethnic backgrounds are most at risk of these outcomes, the EDUMIGROM project investigates the extent to which ethnic differences in education lead to inequalities in future prospects among different urban youth groups.......more

July 2010

Flexibility and security in the workplace are key to a European work-care balance

Investment in family support is needed to enable parents to combine their care responsibilities with their right to work, according to the WORKCARE project. It indicated that a key aspect to successful policy is the provision of flexibility and security in the workplace for both men and women. To do this, policy will need to consider current national and gender differences.......more

July 2010

Advantages of migration in the European Union

International migration into and within the EU is a key issue with far-reaching consequences for Member States and the EU as a whole. It affects the integration of resident immigrants, how institutions can adapt to preserve social cohesion, and the management of demand-and-supply-driven migration.......more

September 2010

International migration transforms both sending and receiving countries

Around one billion people worldwide cross national borders each year and an estimated 200 million people live outside their original home countries. Of these, around 90 million work outside their countries of origin. As a result, new patterns of international migration and new kinds of transnational migrants are emerging.......more

October 2010

Linguistic diversity: Opportunities and pitfalls

‘Multilingualism’ is prone to contradictory interpretations, which presents serious challenges to policy makers in their quest for an integrated, knowledge-based European society. Linguistic diversity is promoted as valuable and positive by European policy makers; however while it can be culturally enriching, multilingualism is often perceived as an obstacle to social integration and cohesion. If Europe hopes to utilise the potential of its linguistic assets productively, policy makers should acknowledge the contentious nature of language diversity, and address it with coordinated and consistent education and integration measures.......more

November 2010

Bridging the generational gap

How is demographic change affecting intergenerational solidarity in Europe? What policies are best suited to promoting social integration among an ageing population? These are among the key questions being explored by MULTILINKS, an EU-sponsored research project led by the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Although the project is still ongoing, it has already yielded significant findings that could provide EU and national-level policy makers with orientation on a broad range of socio-economic issues from childcare to retirement.......more

December 2010

New survey to measure impact of change on EU employees

Globalisation, rapid changes in technology and demographics, such as an ageing population and migration, together with the economic crisis, are putting considerable pressure for change on organisations and their employees. Organisational change can be highly disruptive, resulting in a decline in productivity and lower economic performance or even company failure. These challenges are recognised in the Europe 2020 Strategy, which calls for change to be managed positively, and for innovative and flexible forms of work to be promoted to improve the quality of employment and company performance.......more

January 2011

Coping with a multifaith Europe: differing approaches to religious education

All European countries are multicultural entities, and growing religious diversity is an important dimension of this. Analysis of the role of religious and moral education1 (RME) in schools can lead to a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities of dealing with multicultural societies.......more

February 2011

Are the needs of the ageing population different for men and women?

The ageing European population has large implications for policy. The MAGGIE (Major Ageing and Gender Issues in Europe) research project has analysed the quality of life among older people, focusing on gender to inform policy development and identify the most vulnerable groups. The project involved ten research teams across Europe to analyse various indicators of quality of life among the population aged over 60. Its main sources of data have been SHARE (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe)1 and GGS (Gender and Generation Survey)2. This has been supplemented with data from the ECHP (European Community Household Panel)3 and from the EU’s 5th Framework project, FELICIE (Future Elderly Living Conditions in Europe)4.......more

March 2011

Europeans want children: Can policies help?

Which factors determine fertility rates in Europe? How do people decide to have children? Why do many people postpone or abandon their childbearing plans? Coordinated by the Vienna Institute of Demography (VID), the REPRO research project has spent the past three years exploring these and other compelling questions concerning Europe's demographic development. Its findings reveal a great deal about Europe's fertility challenge.......more

April 2011

Can home ownership help finance an ageing population?

Across the EU the trend towards a shrinking and ageing population is accompanied by a significant increase in the extent of home ownership, with some two-thirds of European households now owning their homes. The net value of these properties is estimated at Euro 13 trillion in the 15 older Member States, and almost Euro two trillion in the 10 Member States joining in 2004. Housing equity within the EU25 as a whole is some 40% higher than total GDP, the figure being particularly high in New Member States and in some Southern countries, and lower in North and North West Europe.......more

May 2011

Enhancing the educational attainment of young people in care

Increasing the educational achievement of young people is an important EU goal. Young people who have been in public care are more likely to leave school early and the YIPPEE research project has explored the educational pathways of this group. The research has identified a striking invisibility in terms of national statistics and a lack of recognition of young people in care as socially disadvantaged. Amongst the project’s recommendations are the need for routine collection of EU-wide statistical data, more co-ordination between education and care services, and fewer changes in young people’s placements and schools........more

June 2011

Migrant rights could enhance intercultural tolerance

New research assessing the impact of migration as a driving force for social and cultural development in South East Europe has called for a modernised approach to migration policy, where free movement across borders is considered as a resource for Europe, not perceived to be a problem that requires a solution........more

September 2011

Arabic ethnic media promotes cultural identity in Europe

The recent emergence of ‘new media’ sources, mostly via satellite and the internet, has transformed the way in which information, particularly news, is communicated internationally. New research shows that it is precisely this richness and complexity of media sources that promotes feelings of cultural belonging among Islamic newcomers to Europe. The research makes recommendations to policy makers at the national and European level to recognise the role of media plurality in debates about citizenship........more

September 2011

Family-friendly policies should be at the heart of the future Europe

Challenging trends facing societies throughout Europe mean that the needs of families should be taken into consideration as a key priority in setting future policies. The formulation of family policies should be aimed at supporting reconciliation of family and employment commitments. For that purpose, the FAMILYPLATFORM social platform developed a European research agenda to increase the wellbeing of families and encourage family cohesion across Europe. The research agenda highlights the importance of reconciling family life, including care responsibilities, with competing demands coming from outside the family, in particular employment........more

October 2011

Tackling youth exclusion and unemployment: Civil society organisations have their role to play

New research on long-term unemployed or precariously employed young people reveals the very different opportunities they face, depending in which country they live. The YOUNEX research project emphasises that civil society organisations (CSOs) are effectively dealing with problems in this field, and should be more closely involved in the design and implementation of related public policies.....more

October 2011

Early interventions against social exclusion reduce the risk of youth homelessness

The research project on ‘Combating social exclusion among young homeless populations’ (CSEYHP) investigated the routes to homelessness of 216 young men and women of diverse origin and ethnicity in four Member States (the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and Portugal). The research was ground-breaking and participative since many of the co-researchers who undertook the survey understood the issues from within, having experienced homelessness themselves.....more

November 2011

Opportunities and barriers to active participation of older people in society

Europe’s society and workforce is ageing due to a combination of low birth rates and rising life expectancy. It is estimated that there will be only two people of working age (15-64) for every person aged over 65 in the European Union by the year 2060, compared to a ratio of four to one today. A peak in the number of retired people is expected to occur during the period 2015-35 when the ‘baby boom’ generation retires, leading to fears that retirees may become too heavy a burden on younger, working-age people, and increase pressure on public budgets and pension systems.....more

November 2011

Revitalising the role of the city through cultural integration

Among the factors within a population’s surroundings that can help or hinder cultural integration, the GEITONIES research project concludes that although the local neighbourhood is an important starting point to establish informal interethnic contact, more responsibility for promoting integration should be adopted at the city, national and EU level to develop meaningful, long-term relations.....more

February 2012

Barriers and opportunities for young immigrants in Europe

The EUMARGINS research project has found a wide diversity in the experiences of inclusion and exclusion among young immigrants, ranging from success in work and private life, to marginalisation and exclusion that can change over a course of a life time. Immigration status, class, ethnicity, religion, age and gender are all factors that interact and create segmentation, influencing inclusion or exclusion. Policy solutions should take account of the specifics of each country as well as immigrants’ demographic, cultural and socio-economic background, and target the most vulnerable groups in each country.....more

March 2012

Social investment policies needed to integrate work and welfare

Although there was an increase in the employment rate in Europe during the 2000s, the quality of jobs created has not kept pace. According to the RecWoWe network of excellence (FP6), quality and equality were forgotten in the rush to increase employment. The RecWoWe co-ordinators call for policy changes to reconcile and find a balance between the worlds of work and welfare.....more

March 2012

Job quality can suffer even during employment growth in Europe

Employment in the EU increased by 7.9% from 2000 to 2008 (the period before the economic crisis). The walqing research project, however, has found that the quality of these new jobs was split almost 50:50 between those classified as lower quality and those classified as higher quality jobs. Therefore, employment growth does not automatically improve job quality. Active policy intervention is necessary to support better job quality through policy measures such as a minimum wage, standard setting, health and safety regulations, and regulating the informal part of a sector.....more

April 2012

Multilingualism can increase creativity in the EU knowledge

The DYLAN research project explored the role of multilingualism in communication, with particular attention to its functions in knowledge creation and within the workplace. The project has produced guidance for European policy makers, businesses, educational institutions and the general public on how to make the best use of multilingualism.....more

May 2012

Both respect and tolerance needed for intercultural cohesion in Europe

Tolerance between culturally different communities is a seemingly implicit ideal in achieving social cohesion in a multicultural European society. However, the RESPECT research project highlights how in many instances, the reality of tolerance does not live up to these expectations with regard to access to public spaces for minority groups. The researchers call for an updated social policy to foster deep-rooted respect as well as tolerance, which can be achieved by promoting equal social and political standing.....more

July 2012

Pensions and productivity: The economic impact of an ageing population

Europe’s population is ageing at an unprecedented rate, faster than any other continent, and is economically unsustainable. Nearly 25% of the EU population will be over 65 by 2030, an increase from 17% in 2005. The number of people aged 65 and over compared to working-age people (aged 15-64) is expected to double by 2050, from one person in four to one in two.....more