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Despite lower expenditure on social protection (as a share of GDP) compared to the EU average, the Republic of Slovenia has so far managed to maintain a relatively low level of risk of poverty or social exclusion. In addition, the National Reform Programme 2011–2012 has set a 2020 target to reduce by 40,000 the number of people at high risk of poverty or social exclusion as compared to the base year of 2008. The latest research from the Youth Council of Slovenia, ‘Youth Index 2016’ (Indeks mladih 2016), reports that more than 50,000 young people are living below the poverty threshold. Of these, 28,000 are receiving financial social help, and 3,102 are in receipt of unemployment benefits.
According to the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (2016), the number of young people in Slovenia is rapidly decreasing. In the last decade this number was reduced by 11 percent, and until 2020 we can expect a further 20-percent reduction. These demographic changes imply that in terms of long-term stability and development of Slovenian society the importance of full social inclusion and activation of the potential of every young person is and will be greater than ever before.
According to the Eurofound study Social Inclusion of Young People, Slovenia had the lowest level of perceived youth social exclusion across central and eastern European countries in 2013. In ‘Youth 2010’ (Mladina 2010), which documents the social profile of young people in Slovenia, one of the fundamental research goals related to participation and social inclusion. The study’s findings indicated that 10.4% of young people in Slovenia were socially excluded and identified a number of key challenges in this regard. According to the study, the socio-demographic factors that raise the probability of social exclusion of young people in Slovenia are: higher age, lower education of father and mother, low monthly income, worse material standing of the respondent’s family and growing up in an urban environment. Therefore, socially excluded youth in Slovenia come mainly from families with lower socio-economic status, in which authoritarian socialisation patterns in particular are dominant. The study also found that social exclusion has been linked to psychosocial variables and that social exclusion is negatively associated with numerous indicators of young people’s psychosocial development and physical health.
According to ‘Youth 2010’, the main mechanisms for social inclusion in Slovenia are education and employment. The Eurofound study ‘Social Inclusion of Young People’ noted that ‘exclusion from education is a strong determinant of ending up NEET and may lead to further social exclusion. The lowest rates across Europe were observed in Slovenia, where only 4.4% of young people are early school-leavers’. In contrast to the increasing proportion of young people in education, the proportion of youth (15-29 years) employees or self-employees decreased from 47.9% to 32.8% in the 10-year period 2000–2010, and Slovenian youth policy is faced with a growing number of tertiary level graduates who fail to find employment that is appropriate to their qualifications. ‘Youth 2010’ also highlighted the problem of work patterns among young people that include shifts and Saturday, Sunday and evening work, all of which contribute to social exclusion. This trend towards ‘working in asocial time’ among Slovenian youth differs from those in most developing EU societies, and Slovenia ranks first in the EU for temporary employment of young people. This situation adversely affects young people’s capacity to achieve independence or to start a family and increases the risk of poverty.
Housing issues and, in particular, young people’s relatively late departure from their parents’ home remain topical in Slovenia. Youth 2010 reported that ‘in the period 2000–2010, the percentage of youth between 25 and 29 who live in a shared household with their mother increased from 45.4 per cent to 66.8 per cent’. The figures clearly indicate a stable and relatively steep trend of delaying departure from the parental home; in 2010, ‘92.1 per cent of youths aged 15–18 wanted to move away from home by the time they are 29, at age 29 only 31.6 per cent lived completely separately from their parents’. Across the 28 EU countries, Slovenian youth were among the last to leave home, and the role of material factors indicates a significant disparity between aspiration and reality. In 2015, Slovenia was still well above the EU average for youth aged 19–34 who still lived with their parents, although this percentage has dropped from 68.7% in 2006 to 60.8% in 2015. These data probably reflect the ‘relatively favourable conditions of living with the parents (who mostly own houses), and unwillingness of the young (and their parents) to assume the risk of poverty in the early stages of managing their own household’ (Youth 2010, p. 626).
Research on homelessness in Ljubljana in 2006 indicates that more than a third of homeless people is aged 15–25. According to the Youth Council of Slovenia (see Policy paper on youth housing), Slovenia faces an acute shortage of apartments for rent, as 90% of these are privately owned. This rate is extremely high and has several negative consequences; with so few apartments for long-term rent, people must choose between buying or unregulated short-term rental contracts. In providing non-profit housing, four groups of young people must be prioritised: young families, people with special needs, families with several children and the long-term unemployed. However, young homeless people are not mentioned as a priority group either in legislation or in national programs. Slovenia has no register of homeless people or indeed any database that might help to identify homeless (young) people. In the absence of any frank or visible acknowledgement of the problem, it can only be assumed that there is a (greater) hidden homeless population of young individuals.
 The at-risk-of-poverty rate is the share of people with an equivalised disposable income (after social transfer) below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold, which is set at 60 % of the national median equivalised disposable income after social transfers (see Eurostat).
 See article: Dekleva, B., Razpotnik, Š. and Vižintin, M., 2006. Kdo so ljubljanski brezdomci in kako so to postali?. Kralji ulice, 2(9), pp. 14-15.
 See article: Letnar, S., 2014, Brezdomstvo med mladimi: predstave o brezdomnih mladih: magistrsko delo. Ljubljana: Fakulteta za družbene vede (last accessed 19/09/2017).
In developing policy measures, Slovenia takes account of the EU definition of social inclusion as a process that includes everything from social security (minimum) to active involvement (maximum). Slovenia’s approach encompasses the following elements.
- Adequate income support in combination with help to get a job (linking out-of-work and in-work benefits and helping people to access their entitlements). In particular, this includes a set of individual rights financed from public funds (uveljavljanje pravic).
- Inclusive labour markets (making it easier for people to join the workforce, tackling in-work poverty and avoiding poverty traps and disincentives to work). This includes in particular employment policies and the labour market, education and training, matching supply and demand in the labour market.
- Access to quality services (helping people to participate actively in society). In particular, this includes education, health and social protection (including social insurance, social activation and social programs, affordable housing and participation in society).
Youth social inclusion is not separately defined in the Slovenian legislation. The principal relevant Act (the Public Interest in Youth Sector Act (Zakon o javnem interesu v mladinskem sektorju)) defines care for young people with fewer opportunities in the society as just one area of the youth sector (see Article 4). However, some definitions of social inclusion can be found in political and scientific papers, national resolutions and other documents adopted by youth organisations. The National Programme for Youth 2013–2022 (Resolucija o nacionalnem programu za mladino 2013–2022) borrowed the ‘Youth 2010’ definition of social exclusion as ‘the involuntary exclusion/separation of individuals and groups from political, economic and social processes, thereby preventing their full participation in the society in which they live’. In the National Youth Council of Slovenia’s (Mladinski svet Slovenije) ‘Youth and Social inclusion’ (Mladi in socialna vključenost (2014)), social exclusion is defined as non-acceptance of an individual or group of people within their social environment, based on a range of social factors and circumstances such as race, ethnicity, culture, health, gender, language, age and social class.
A resolution on the National Social Assistance Programme 2013–2020’ (ReNPSV13–20) stresses that the purpose of the social security system in Slovenia is to provide social security for citizens of the Republic of Slovenia and to ensure social inclusion. One of the three key objectives of this resolution is to reduce the risk of poverty and increase the social inclusion of socially disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. However, this key target is not youth-specific, and indeed, there is no general definition in Slovenia of the category of young people with fewer opportunities. This group usually includes unemployed youth with low educational background, as well as those with significantly reduced mobility because of a health condition, those from remote rural regions and those from certain minorities experiencing disadvantage and discrimination.