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Economic and social inequalities in Europe in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been said to result in an upsurge of inequality among European societies and citizens. Labour market, income, health, and education disparities between and within the Member States were expected to increase as obstacles to social cohesion and upward convergence. In this context, Eurofound’s research project “Economic and social inequalities in Europe in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic” investigates the main drivers of inequality and key policy levers to support the reduction of multidimensional inequalities, as well as initiatives to promote social cohesion.

This assignment contributed to the activities of Eurofound by providing insight and knowledge on the following research questions:

  • How have the levels of inequality changed since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in Europe?
  • What are the main drivers of inequality in Europe?
  • How has the COVID-19 crisis contributed to changes in inequality?

The research questions were explored through a systematic literature analysis, as well as statistical analyses of the drivers of inequality – both in general and in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The qualitative element – the literature review – provided an overview of the state-of-play of this rapidly expanding area of study, and refined the conceptual framework for the quantitative analysis. Meanwhile, the empirical quantitative part employed the most recent survey data to test and demonstrate the relationships between the drivers of inequality, COVID-19 and the wellbeing outcomes across the EU Member States.