In recent years, the European economy managed to recover from the crisis – but in how far are these developments actually reflected in the daily lives of Europeans? And which social imbalances persist in the European Union? These were the two key questions at the heart of our recent event “EU to go spezial. Social Imbalances” that took place on 6th February in Berlin. During the event, Sylvia Schmidt (Project Manager, Bertelsmann Stiftung) and Philipp Ständer (Research Fellow, Jacques Delors Institute Berlin) presented their new study “How are you doing, Europe? Mapping social imbalances in the EU".
The study looks at six social challenges relating to decent living standards, good working conditions as well as equal opportunities and participation. Zooming in on two examples from their study, the two researchers firstly focused on employment in the EU: overall, unemployment recently dropped to 6.7 percent across the EU (as of the fourth quarter of 2018). However, a closer look at member state level shows that the recovery on the job market is uneven. In this context, the researchers’ presentation depicted various faces of joblessness, such as inactivity or long-term unemployment and how these vary between EU member states. Secondly, a lifetime perspective on persisting gender inequalities in the EU allowed to show how inequalities between men and women accumulate and translate throughout a woman’s life, finally leading to a still significant pension gap at old age. In this context, the researchers for example referred to persisting imbalances in employment, in particular with regard to the challenges mothers with young children face on the job market.