An analysis of the impact of the pandemic on young people in terms of job loss and psychological well-being.

AS – 11/2021

On 9 November, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) published a report in English on the extensive impact of the COVID pandemic on young people (aged 15 to 29) in the European Union (EU). This provides an overview of the efforts of governments and policy makers at EU level to protect young people from the economic and social impact of the crisis, in particular job losses and psychological wellbeing

Initial situation of young people at the beginning of COVID

The sectors most affected by the restrictions, in particular accommodation and food services, employed the largest proportion of young people before the outbreak of the pandemic. They often worked on insecure, fixed-term and easily terminable contracts, part-time and/or on low wages. This exposed them to a higher risk of job loss and consequently to the exclusion from social security. In order to wipe out the greater vulnerability of young people in the labour market, policies have been introduced to provide them with easier access and better coverage by social security during the pandemic.

New and improved social security measures

Several countries have introduced incentives for employers to target recruitment of young people, while others have focused on job retention, particularly in the most affected sectors. Social protection has been extended during the pandemic, with Member States significantly reducing barriers to existing financial measures – specifically and explicitly for young people. For example, Member States have eased eligibility conditions for young people to the minimum income, widened and facilitated their access to unemployment measures, provided financial support for young people insured with private social security institutions and for flexible young workers in precarious jobs, who are not entitled to social security benefits.

Impact on the psychological health of young people

Member States also recognised the impact of restrictive measures on young people's mental well-being and highlighted the seriousness of the problem. However, deficiencies in mental healthcare and access problems have been identified in many Member States. The need for intervention was recognised, but adapting to the pandemic situation was seen as extremely difficult, particularly in specifically reaching out to the most vulnerable young people. Most new mental health support interventions were via online chats or telephone hotlines, while strengthening of existing interventions focused on bringing mental health service provision (partly) online.


The economic and social impact of the pandemic not only affects young people more than the average worker at present, but could also have immense consequences for their future working lives and social security. Whether the vulnerability of this group can be addressed will only be measured over time.