EU Social Justice Index 2015

The Social Justice Index is an extraordinary instrument measuring the situation in the EU (starting since 2008 until 2015) for six dimensions of social justice: 1) poverty prevention, 2) equitable education, 3) labor market access, 4) social cohesion and non-discrimination, 5) health, and 6) intergenerational justice.

Currently we can notice a big gap between the northern and the southern countries, but also how the recent years have disproportionately affected children and young people!

The Social Justice Index is designed to measure on a regular basis the progress made and the ground lost on issues of social justice in each EU member state. Since social justice is a central constitutive element of the legitimacy and stability of any political community, we look at the current state of affairs within the individual member states.

As a cross-national survey, the Social Justice Index comprises 27 quantitative and eight qualitative indicators, each associated with one of the six dimensions of social justice.

The dimension of poverty is weighted most strongly, given triple weight in the overall ranking. The importance of access to education and labor market is emphasized by doubly weighting these dimensions. Social cohesion, health and intergenerational justice are factored into the index with a simple/ normal weight. For the purposes of comparison, in addition to the weighted Social Justice Index, a non-weighted ranking was created in which the six dimensions were treated equally.

The Social Justice Index is based on quantitative and qualitative data collected by the Bertelsmann Stiftung within the framework of its SGI project (

The data for the quantitative SGI indicators used in the Social Justice Index are derived primarily from Eurostat and the European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC).

The qualitative indicators reflect the evaluations provided by more than 100 experts responding to the SGI’s survey of the state of affairs in various policy areas throughout the OECD and EU. For these indicators, the rating scale ranges from 1 (worst) to 10 (best). In order to ensure compatibility between the quantitative and qualitative indicators, all raw values for the quantitative indicators undergo linear transformation to give them a range of 1 to 10 as well.

Together with the ranking of the resulting reform values, the index values form the Social Inclusion Monitor dataset.

The six dimensions in detail

  1. Poverty Prevention: Under conditions of poverty, social participation and self- determined life are possible only with great difficulty. Poverty is the strongest determinant of social and economic exclusion of young people.
  2. Equitable Education: Equal access to good- quality education is an essential factor in providing equitable capabilities and opportunities for advancement (vertical mobility). It is critical to ending hereditary social exclusion, supports integration and includes lifelong learning.
  3. Labor-market access: Employment both provides an income and facilitates social participation. The degree of inclusiveness is essential since an individual’s status is defined in large part by his or her participation in the workforce. Exclusion from the labor market substantially limits individual opportunities for self- realization, contributes to an increase in the risk of poverty, and can even lead to serious health stresses.
  4. Health: The conditions in which people live and die are shaped by political, social and economic forces. Social and economic policies have a determining impact on whether a child can grow and develop to its full potential and live a flourishing life, or whether its life will be blighted. This is why access to healthcare ensures young people can be active in society.
  5. Social cohesion and non- discrimination: This dimension enables the examination of the extent to which trends towards social polarization, exclusion and the discrimination of specific groups are successfully countered. Developing a community of shared values, shared challenges and equal opportunity is the aim.
  6. Intergenerational justice: The issue at stake here is the need for contemporary generations to lead lives they value without compromising the ability of future generations at the same. Sharing social burdens among young and old, with provision for future generations is the aspiration.

Read the full report here: