IF is grateful to the Open Society Initiative for Europe for their invaluable financial support, which funded the production of an interactive online tool that visualises the findings from this project. Try playing around with the data yourself!
Has Europe let down its young? That is the question the Intergenerational Foundation (IF) strives to answer with the IF European Fairness Index 2016. The IF EU Index 2016 is an attempt to measure how the position of young people changed across Europe over the ten years between 2005 and 2014 by analysing movements in a set of 13 social and economic indicators.
The picture that emerges reveals a slow but consistent deterioration in the prospects of the young, at the same time as the costs of caring for, and spending on, our older generation is rapidly increasing. This sits against the backdrop of the continuing financial, economic, and political fallout from the 2008 global financial crisis as countries struggle with government debt, scarce jobs, stagnating economies and disillusioned electorates. All of which places a larger economic burden on younger workers who have suffered from the failure of too many EU members to secure their future competitiveness by becoming high-skill, low-carbon “knowledge economies”.
The Index findings lead us to ask a critical philosophical question: what do we owe generations gone before and those to come? Why should the young maintain a social contract based on promises they did not make and may not benefit from themselves? Are the bonds between the generations at risk if caring for Europe’s old diverts too many resources away from the young? As Professor Laurence Kotlikoff of Boston University argues in his foreword, the IF EU Index should act as a wake-up call that urges policy-makers to negotiate a fairer settlement for young people today and those yet to be born.