The importance of fairness in the political agenda is reflected by the adoption of the European Pillar of Social Rights in 2017 and also by the Commission 2019-2024
To provide a wider evidence base that can enhance EU policy aiming to achieve this goal, the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has embarked on a multi-year cross-national research project to study different aspects of fairness.
The research topics addressed include: the distribution of income across and within EU Member States as well as the fairness related impact of tax and social benefits systems; the dynamics of social mobility across and within generations; the drivers of inequalities and fairness perceptions; and the determinants of civic and social behaviours.
Latest Workshops of the Community of Practice on Fairness
Community of Practice on Fairness
The Community aims to foster an informed dialogue and knowledge sharing on the multidimensional aspects of fairness thereby bridging the gap between academics and policy makers. The Fairness CoP regularly organises events on fairness relevant topics.
Perceptions of inequality and fairness: recent developments in the EU
The seminar will shed light on new developments in fairness perceptions, inequality concerns and preferences about the role of governments in reducing inequalities in the EU.
Roundtable with experts: Effective actions to address loneliness
This online Roundtable discuss the findings of the work on loneliness so far, collect emerging effective actions, and contribute to the discussion at EU level.
Latest policy briefs on Fairness
The JRC regularly publishes policy briefs on various topics related to fairness.
- According to a recent Eurobarometer, 81% of EU citizens perceive income inequalities as too great.
- Support for greater redistribution is high (77% of EU citizens) and correlates with perceived inequalities and preferences for more spending in social policies.
- Most EU citizens favour additional spending on social policies, especially in southern EU countries.
- Increased spending on healthcare and long-term care is the top priority in almost all countries, followed by education, pensions, housing and then income support and family and unemployment benefits.
- Most believe that additional social spending should be financed by increasing households’ tax burden (51%), with alternatives being reducing other public expenditure (15%), increasing public deficits (12%) or not increasing social spending (16%).
- According to a recent Eurobarometer survey, 81% of EU citizens believe that income inequality is too high. While remaining high, the level of concern about income inequality is slightly lower than in 2017 (85%).
- Despite the COVID-19 crisis, income inequality concerns decreased for most socio-economic groups. This drop was largest for older individuals and those living in rural areas.
- In contrast, the perception of life fairness has declined in the past 5 years: the share of individuals agreeing that things that happen in their life are fair decreased from 51% in 2017 to 38% in 2022.
- Fairness perceptions diminished especially among young people and students, but less so among lower-educated individuals and those with financial difficulties.
- The direct economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic do not seem to be the major cause of the decrease in fairness perceptions. Potential drivers include uncertainties about the future, perceived inequality of opportunity, and discontent with measures taken to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
- There is a controversial debate on the employment impact of reductions in working time. This debate dates back to the early days of the trade union movement.
- Although standard economic models suggest that a reduction of working time at full salary should reduce overall employment, some support the idea that work can be redistributed and hence that a shorter work week could lead to higher employment.
- An empirical analysis of the reforms of usual working hours that took place in EU Member States since the late 1990 shows that the fall in hours worked did not result in any changes in employment (i.e. there was neither an increase nor a decrease in employment).
Second Special Eurobarometer: Fairness, inequality and inter-generational mobility
The survey shows that, in 2022, fewer Europeans think that life is fair compared to 2017. While people are not more concerned about income inequality than 5 years ago, there is wide support for additional spending on social policies. The fieldwork was carried out in May and June 2022. 26,395 respondents across the EU-27 participated.
First Special Eurobarometer: Fairness, inequality and inter-generational mobility
The poll shows most Europeans think life is generally fair, but have concerns over justice, political decisions and income inequality. This survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews between 2 and 11 December 2017. A total of 28,031 people were interviewed in 28 EU countries.