Juli 2013

IZA Policy Paper No. 66: Youth Unemployment in Belgium: Diagnosis and Key Remedies

published in: Intereconomics, 2013, 48 (4), 202-209

In Belgium youth unemployment is structurally higher than the European (EU27) average, in particular for the low educated. In this study we set a diagnosis of the main structural factors and advance key remedies. We analyze the system of employment protection, education and passive and active labor market policies. A high minimum wage, a strict separation between school and work, and a vertically segmented schooling system with high retention rates and too early tracking are identified as main causal factors. Strict employment protection legislation is only concern for high-skilled youth. Reducing labor costs at low wages and a fundamental schooling reform that aims at dismantling the strict barrier between school and work are proposed as key remedies. In addition, youth should be entitled as of the start of unemployment to a low benefit based on the principle of “mutual obligation”. Very intensive and durable guidance is to be targeted to the low educated.