The IF European Intergenerational Fairness Index 2016

Document type
Leach, Jeremy; Broeks, Miriam; Ostensvik, Kristin
Intergenerational Foundation
Date of publication
10 March 2016
Children and Young People, Social Policy
Social welfare
Material type

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The IF EU Index 2016 is an attempt to measure how the position of young people has changed across the ten years between 2005 and 2014.

It analyses the following set of 13 social and economic indicators: Housing Costs, Government Debt, Spending on Pensions, Spending on Education, Health Services, Youth Unemployment, Democratic Participation, Incomes, Environmental Impact, Population Structure, Tertiary Education, Expenditure on R&D, and Poverty & Social Exclusion.

The Index findings lead us to ask a critical philosophical question: what do we owe generations gone before and those to come?

Key findings:

  • In aggregate Greece is the worst country for intergenerational fairness followed by Italy, Romania and Cyprus. These countries suffer from high government debt, challenging old-age dependency ratios and high health system costs.
  • Nordic young people (in Denmark, Finland and Sweden) are becoming impoverished through relatively high housing costs and low incomes.
  • High pension costs are creating an increasing burden for countries such as Denmark and Greece which spend over 10% of their GDP on pensions.

Although the picture varies from country to country, it shows that intergenerational fairness has been in decline because of three related trends: the impact of the post 2007 recession on government debt and young people’s living standards, the deteriorating demographic profile of most European countries, and the failure of many countries to adequately invest in becoming high-skill, low-carbon ‘knowledge’ economies.