Download publication

Policy Brief

Europe’s social problem and its implications for economic growth

The European Union faces major social problems. More than six million jobs were lost from 2008-13 and poverty has increased. Fiscal consolidation has generally attempted to spare social protection from spending cuts, but the distribution of adjustment costs between the young and old has been uneven; a growing generational divide is evident, disadvantaging the young.

By: and Date: March 31, 2014 Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance

The European Union faces major social problems. More than six million jobs were lost from 2008-13 and poverty has increased. Fiscal consolidation has generally attempted to spare social protection from spending cuts, but the distribution of adjustment costs between the young and old has been uneven; a growing generational divide is evident, disadvantaging the young. The efficiency of the social security systems of EU countries varies widely. Countries with greater inequality tended to have higher household borrowing prior to the crisis resulting in more subdued consumption growth during the crisis. The resulting high private debt, high unemployment, poverty and more limited access to education undermine long-term growth and social and political stability.

Policymakers face three main challenges. First, addressing unemployment and poverty should remain a high priority not only for its own sake, but because these problems undermine public debt sustainability and growth. Second, bold policies in various areas are required. Most labour, social and fiscal policies are the responsibility of member states, requiring national reforms. But better coordination of demand management at European level is also necessary in order to create jobs. Third, tax/benefit systems should be reviewed for improved efficiency, inter- generational equity and fair burden sharing between the wealthy and poor.

View comments
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

AI, robots and platform workers: What future for European welfare states?

At this event, we launch the study, "Digitalisation and European welfare states", authored by Georgios Petropoulos, J. Scott Marcus, Nicolas Moës, and Enrico Bergamini.

Speakers: Michael Froman, J. Scott Marcus, Monika Queisser, Thiébaut Weber and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Location: France Stratégie, 20 avenue de Ségur Date: July 9, 2019
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Blueprint

Digitalisation and European welfare states

EU policymakers must find answers to pressing questions: if technology has a negative impact on labour income, how will the welfare state be funded? How can workers’ welfare rights be adequately secured? A team of Bruegel scholars, with the support of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, has taken on these questions.

By: Georgios Petropoulos, J. Scott Marcus, Nicolas Moës and Enrico Bergamini Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: July 9, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Farewell, flat world

In the last 50 years, the most important economic development has been the diminishing income gap between the richer and poorer countries. Now, there is a growing realisation that transformations in the global economy have been re-established centrally from intangible investments, to digital networks, to finance and exchange rates.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 2, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Deep Focus: Making a success of EU cohesion policy

Bruegel senior fellow Zsolt Darvas talks to Sean Gibson in this Deep Focus podcast about how the EU can improve its cohesion policy, citing the best examples of its implementation and stressing the methodological difficulties in measuring its effectiveness.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 20, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

GNI-per-head rankings: The sad stories of Greece and Italy

No other country lost as many positions as Greece and Italy in the rankings of European countries by Gross National Income per head, between 1990 and 2017. The tentative conclusion here is that more complex, country-specific stories – beyond the euro, or the specific euro-area fiscal rules – are needed to explain these individual performances.

By: Francesco Papadia Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 18, 2019
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Brief

A strategic agenda for the new EU leadership

Memo to the presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament. 'A strategic agenda for the new EU leadership' by Maria Demertzis, André Sapir and Guntram Wolff is the first of our 2019 Bruegel memos to the new presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament. Focusing on the most important economic questions at EU level, these Bruegel memos are intended to be a strategic to-do list, outlining the state of affairs that will greet the new Commission.

By: Maria Demertzis, André Sapir and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 13, 2019
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

External Publication

Effectiveness of cohesion policy: learning from the project characteristics that produce the best results

This study by Zsolt Darvas, Antoine Mathieu Collin, Jan Mazza, and Catarina Midões analyses the characteristics of cohesion policy projects that can contribute to successful outcomes. Their analysis is based on a literature survey, an econometric analysis and interviews with stakeholders. About two dozen project characteristics are considered, and their association with economic growth is studied using a novel methodology. Based on the findings, the study concludes with recommendations for cohesion policy reform.

By: Zsolt Darvas, Antoine Mathieu Collin, Jan Mazza and Catarina Midoes Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 11, 2019
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

A European atlas of economic success and failure

Economic growth was diverse across EU regions, yet it is crucial to control for region-specific factors in assessing growth performance. We find that there are rather successful regions in many EU countries, suggesting that the EU can provide a good framework for growth. Yet the worst performers are more concentrated in some countries, suggesting that country-specific factors can play a major role in regional development.

By: Zsolt Darvas, Jan Mazza and Catarina Midoes Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 3, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

L’euro sans l’Europe : un projet incohérent

Jean Pisani-Ferry constate que tous les grands partis ne remettent plus en cause l’euro. Il souligne néanmoins que trois vulnérabilités – économique, politique et internationale – menacent la monnaie unique.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 28, 2019
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Contribution

How to improve European Union cohesion policy for the next decade

This policy contribution investigates the performance of the design, implementation and effectiveness of cohesion policy, the most evaluated EU tool for promoting economic convergence. By analysing the effects of cohesion policy on economic growth through reviewing literature, conducting empirical research by comparing regions, as well as considering attitudes and expectations collected through interviewing stakeholders, the authors provide reform recommendations.

By: Zsolt Darvas, Jan Mazza and Catarina Midoes Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 23, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

The latest European growth-rate estimates

The quarterly growth rate of the euro area in Q1 2019 was 0.4% (1.5% annualized), considerably higher than the low growth rates of the previous two quarters. This blog reviews the reaction to the release of these numbers and the discussion they have triggered about the euro area’s economic challenges.

By: Konstantinos Efstathiou Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: May 20, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

External Publication

Global interpersonal income inequality decline: The role of China and India

Without China and India, global interpersonal income inequality in 143 countries was higher in 2015 than in 1988. Has the rest of the world really become more equal?

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: May 14, 2019
Load more posts