Caritas Europa: Seize the opportunity and use the Pillar of Social Rights to end youth poverty

Caritas Europa made a strong call in favour of the European Pillar of Social Rights today at a press conference where it presented the results of a survey on youth poverty, conducted by 17 national Caritas organisations in Europe.

The conference included the participation of Mr. Allan Larsson, Special Adviser on the Pillar of Social Rights to the European Commission; Ms. Heather Roy, Secretary General of Eurodiaconia, Bishop Per Eckerdal of the Swedish Lutheran Church and Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary General of Caritas Europa.

Among other things, the survey unveils the emergence of a new youth poverty phenomenon that Caritas Europa has coined SINKIES – Single Income, No Kids. The term refers to young couples without children who are both working-poor and who, when their wages are combined, barely earn the equivalent of a decent single income.

“The appearance of SINKIES is an extremely grave signal that policy-makers must take very seriously. This will be the first generation in decades that risks to be worse off than their parents, bringing along deep consequences for social cohesion, social models as well as social protection systems. We run the risk of a sinking society if no action is taken now,” said Jorge Nuño Mayer, Secretary General of Caritas Europa.

The results from the survey show that:

  • For the first time in decades, younger generations are likely to have fewer opportunities and to be worse off than their parents as jobs are scarcer, wages are lower and working conditions are poorer.
  • European societies have given up on their commitment to social cohesion and are disregarding the younger generations.
  • Young people are often discriminated against and experience difficulties to access basic rights, such as the right to housing and the right to access quality employment.
  • The protracted economic crisis and the subsequent changes introduced in labour markets have hit young people the hardest, e.g. in terms of labour contracts, wages, working conditions and access to social protection.
  • Young single parents, especially young single mothers, have been identified by the survey as the group that is the most vulnerable and exposed to poverty and exclusion.
  • The army of NEETs – young people Not in Employment, Education or Training – is now being joined by a new phenomenon that Caritas Europa has coined as SINKIES: Single Income, No Kids. As opposed to DINKIES, a term coined in the 1980s to describe couples earning a double income who choose to be childless, SINKIES might actually wish to have children, but simply cannot afford it.

Full article.