Relevance and background information

Scholars and the media alike have noted an increase in the amount of time today’s young people need to successfully transition to adulthood; in other words, to become economically self-sufficient. More specifically, unemployment, especially among young adults (persons age 18 to 35), is a particularly vexing and persistent problem within Europe, despite the numerous efforts that have been made by national governments and the EU to encourage young people’s labour market participation. At the same time, we are confronted by the reality that youth unemployment is by no means equally severe across Europe. In some countries young people encounter higher barriers to entering the labour market or may face different hurdles despite having attained a university degree. Entrepreneurship, moreover, is an equally important yet oft-overlooked component of youth employment and aids job creation and the overall economic climate. And although the European Commission has highlighted entrepreneurship as an indispensable tool for economic growth, we know very little about what drives or impedes entrepreneurship, particularly among young people.

To address those issues, the multi-disciplinary CUPESSE project carries out a comparative analysis of both the demand and supply side of youth unemployment in ten Member States of the EU and Associated Countries (i.e. Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom). These ten countries represent the main empirical scope of the project, but whenever possible, the analysis is extended to include all European countries. To attain the goals within CUPESSE, the project brings together theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches from four academic disciplines, namely economics, political science, psychology, and sociology.

CUPESSE, as an innovative project connecting a diverse group of actors and institutions from all over the globe, will make a substantive contribution to understanding the complex processes regarding the employment situation of youth in Europe. With its multi-method, multidisciplinary and encompassing perspective, CUPESSE stands to make a significant impact not only in terms of the ways in which we comprehend the multifaceted concepts of economic self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship, but the project will also be able to draw on these findings to draft policy recommendations which will be relevant for meeting the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy.