Research Seminar | Assessing the Effects of the Youth Employment Initiative
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Youth unemployment has been a primary and long-term structural concern affecting European labour markets since the beginning of the EU integration and the reason behind the debate over the Eurosclerosis (Eichhorst, 2013; Müller and Gangl, 2003; Barbieri & Cutuli 2013). This has turned into a serious political problem in the last decade amid the 2008 economic crisis when the youth unemployment skyrocketed, leading Mario Draghi to famously declare that ‘The European social model has already gone, when we see the youth unemployment rates prevailing in some countries’.
Indeed, the rise in youth unemployment has marked a generation and has been one of the key drivers of the social crisis investing Europe in the last decade (Boeri and Jimeno, 2015; Marques and Salavisa, 2017; Scandurra et al. 2021). Seventeen EU member states recorded their historically highest rate between 2008 and 2012 when youth unemployment rose by 50.6% in the whole EU 28, much more than in other Western economies. Still, in 2020, more than 5.5 million youth in Europe were unemployed, with a huge variation among territories: in the Prague and North-East regions of the Cech Republic the youth unemployment rate was below 1.3%, while in Sicily and West Macedonia it was above 50%.
Youth unemployment moved front in the public debate coupled with increasing political turbulence initially unfolded at the domestic level. This issue prompted new attention on the European institutions, with youth specific proposals launched in the EU Parliament and by the EC (Lahusen et al. 2013). However, the financial austerity did not allow a strong coalition of actors along this issue and only after so many resistances a supranational response was agreed. In July 2013, the Council adopted the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) (Andor and Veselý 2018). This has been seen as the first EU policy response to an explicit and direct demand for EU action (Natili, 2022). Some have argued that YU represented an existential threat of the EU polity itself (Ferrera 2019) and this was the fundamental reason why the EU has taken a stance after first resistance by German and Sarkozy who argued that most policy tools tacking YU should remain under national policy boundaries.
This paper focuses on the direct impact (if any) of YEI on youth employment and underemployment outcomes. Using difference-in-difference and alternatives statistical specifications, this study answer the following research questions: 1) what are the effects (if any) of YEI on employment, NEET and a series of underemployment indicators? 2) how regional contexts mediate the effect of YEI? 3) how YEI affect the propensity of being underemployed and under-employed based on your gender and socio-economic background?
Preliminary evidence shows that YEI impact on youth employment is limited, and it is extremely influenced by structural features of the regional economies. Spatial disparities in youth employment mirrors the extension of differences in the structures of opportunities, with potential impact on the life course of young people.
Dr. Rosario Scandurra is Juan de la Cierva Fellow and a member of the Globalisation, Education and Social Policies (GEPS) research centre at the Faculty of Sociology, Autonomous University of Barcelona. He is research fellow at the Centro de Estudios Globais de la Universidade Aberta de Lisboa. His research has examined educational and skills inequalities and how these inequalities are accumulated during the life course. Multiple questions emerged from this work concerning the complementary sequences of effects embedded in individual contexts of skills formation. Dr Scandurra has examined extensively the school-to-work transition of young people in European territories, with a particular concern for educational opportunities and school segregation at the local level.
Currently, Dr. Scandurra main research is to understand how education and labour market policy could be coordinated to improve youth opportunities. Under this broad topic, he has focused primarily on two dimensions: a) employability policy and higher education governance; and b) skills ecologies, specifically the interplay between territories and institutional design of education and labour market policies.
In addition, he has served as co-researcher on 15 medium and large-scale research projects at national and international level. Currently, he is Principal Researcher for the UAB team of the project Employability in programme development (EPD), funded by the Erasmus+ Key Action 2: Strategic Partnerships. The aim of the project is developing a review of employability practices and constructing a prototype dashboard, which will enable HE staff to draw on labour market intelligence in the development of their educational programmes.
During the course 2022-23, IBEI has organised a series of research seminars, which normally take place once a week. Check the 2022-23 programme