Youth Social Exclusion and Lessons from Youth Work - Evidence from Literature and Surveys

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It is widely recognised that social exclusion produces deep and long-term damage to the living conditions, social and economic participation, emotional life, and health status of young people. It also contributes to the intergenerational transmission of poverty. In turn, insecurity in living standards, political and social isolation, feelings of estrangement and unhealthy lifestyles aggravate pre-existing conditions of social exclusion. This results in a vicious circle where socially excluded young people are in even more danger of suffering from additional material deprivation, social and emotional marginalisation, and health issues, which in turn expose them to more serious risks of exclusion. Almost one out of three young persons between the ages of 18 and 24 is at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the European Union. Youth work can offer opportunities for preventing and remedying this vicious circle. By offering young people targeted support, opportunities for non-formal learning, information on health and wellbeing, and opportunities for positive integration into the local community, youth workers are able to reduce the risks of further social exclusion linked to deteriorating living conditions and unhealthy life styles. This paper aims at offering evidence about the situation of social exclusion suffered by young people in the European Union, and the positive effects that youth work initiatives produce in fostering their (re)inclusion. Looking at factual information on the main conditions of exclusion is essential to have an accurate understanding of the threats encountered by young people. Available data and research literature illustrate the major reasons behind the marginalisation of young Europeans, and pave the way to the development of effective policy strategies to prevent it.


Ana Sofia De Almeida Coutinho, Anna Horvath, Giulia Paolini

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