Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe

Poverty and Social Exclusion in Europe

Matt Barnes, Christopher Heady, Sue Middleton, Jane Millar, Fotis Papadopoulos, Graham Room and Panos Tsakloglou

There are estimated to be almost 60 million people living in poverty throughout the European Union. This bleak statistic underlines the value of this important book which explores the nature and extent of poverty and social exclusion in six European countries, namely: Austria, Germany, Greece, Norway, Portugal and the UK. The book focuses on four ‘life course’ groups who might be considered particularly at risk: young adults, lone parents, the sick and disabled, and the retired.

Chapter 3: Transitions from Youth to Adulthood

Sue Middleton

Subjects: social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


Sue Middleton The pathway from dependent child to independent adult in industrialised countries is perhaps better described as a series of transitions that may, or may not, take place sequentially. The European Commission identifies four major transitional events which characterise the change from childhood to adulthood: ‘leaving the parental home, finishing school or college, getting a job and forming a couple’ (Eurostat, 1997, p. 4). Each of these events might increase the risk of poverty and social exclusion. In this chapter the impact of these transitional events on young people in our study countries is described. Young people’s educational, labour market and family circumstances are first explored, in the context of a comparison of the economic and social policies and programmes which might affect their ability to negotiate successfully the path to adulthood. Finally the extent of poverty and social exclusion among young people is examined and sub-groups of young people particularly at risk are identified. The conclusion considers the implications of these findings for policies targeted on youth transitions. Each country in our study adopts different ages at which young people are allowed access to the social, economic and citizenship rights that differentiate children from adults. Hence, in order to allow direct comparisons to be made among countries, it was necessary to agree an age range for the analysis. This needed to be sufficiently wide so that the vast majority of those younger than the lower age limit would have few, if any,...

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