The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, a small landlocked country surrounded by Belgium, France, and Germany, is one of the smallest and least populated countries in the EU. While the country is home to just over 650,000 inhabitants, Luxembourg City, the nation’s capital, hosts around a fifth of the population and is one of four institutional seats of the EU (with Brussels, Frankfurt, and Strasbourg). Despite having the highest disposable income per person within the EU, poverty has risen steadily since 2000, and faster than in other member states.
SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children and young people without parental care, or at risk of losing it, in Luxembourg since the mid-1960s.
Over 20% of the population are at risk of poverty and social exclusion, with more than 15% considered as “working poor”. Under-18s are at a higher risk of poverty and social exclusion, affecting over 35,000 children. Nearly half of single-parent households, 4 in 5 of which are women-led, live below the poverty line due to relatively high rates of taxation. Poverty puts an additional strain on families, which can lead to mental health and relationship challenges for both parents and children.
Luxembourg experiences an unemployment rate around 5%. However, young people are 4 times more likely to be out of work, with almost 20% of 18 to 24-year-olds facing unemployment, putting them at a significantly greater risk of poverty. In addition, almost 10% of young people are also not in education or training. Young people who are out of work and education lack opportunities to gain and improve their skills, exacerbating employment and socio-economic challenges and increasing their risk of social exclusion.
Luxembourg is facing a growing rate of pupils dropping out of school, with almost 10% of students leaving without any qualifications. Over 60% of pupils dropping out have accumulated a two-year learning delay. The nation’s complex language mix presents a challenge for many pupils who then struggle to overcome learning gaps. Poor educational outcomes can have a profound impact on children and young people, restricting social development, reducing employment opportunities, and contributing to lower wages in adulthood.