On this page you can find all challenges sheets from which you will select the topic of your research. Get a quick overview and click on the links to download the full material (external links open in a new window).

 

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demographics and aging population

Demographic trends can have profound implications for an economy. Increasing numbers of retired people put pressure on government services like healthcare and pensions plans. With fewer people of working age to support retirees, policy makers may be forced to cut benefits or raise taxes. Aging populations can also lead to slower growth due to the shrinking labor force. Today in Europe there are four people of working age for each retired person. By 2050, there will only be two. Read more here.


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What Role Does Fiscal Policy Play in Promoting Economic Growth?

Fiscal policy is an important economic tool at the disposal of governments. During recessions, increasing public spending and cutting taxes can provide a powerful boost to the economy. Likewise, if an economy is overheating, cutting spending and raising taxes will depress output. But borrowing to fund spending can be risky. If debts and deficits get too big, they can lead to debt and financial crises. Read more here.


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living with a single monetary policy

The euro area is unique in that it is a currency union without a corresponding fiscal union. Sharing a single currency helps the single market by lowering transaction costs and preventing competitive devaluations. But EMU also means that countries cannot always depend on monetary policy to help them adjust to shocks, and the appropriate policy stance for one country might be inappropriate in another. Read more here.


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TACKLING HIGH YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT

High youth unemployment rates can result from recessions, but are generally caused by structural problems in education, regulations, or labor market policy. High youth unemployment not only hurts growth and living standards, but it can also cause long-term damage to young peoples’ prospects, set them back in their pursuit of financial independence or in starting a family, and lower their quality of life. Youth unemployment rates in several euro area countries have been slow to decline following the global financial crisis. How did youth unemployment get so high in these countries in the first place? Why aren't labor markets improving more rapidly now? What can be done to promote job growth for the young? Read more here.


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MANAGING MIGRATION FLOWS

Recent decades have seen increasing migration (defined as flows of people both into {immigration} and out of {emigration} countries) within the EU and between the EU and other countries.. Within the EU, the Schengen area is one reform that has liberalized the movement of people between EU countries. Meanwhile, political and social developments elsewhere in the world, particularly in Europe’s neighboring countries/regions and the attractiveness of European economies as a whole have led to growing immigration to the EU from outside. In most European countries, immigration has helped to sustain aging populations and boost economic growth. On the other hand, if migrants are on the lower end of the skill ladder, or if unemployment rates in a host country are high, the integration of immigrants into the economy can have adverse short-term effects on wages and competition for jobs, and put a strain on services such as education and healthcare at least in the short-term. Conversely, the free movement of people can also result in emigration from a country, resulting in the loss of workers, especially higher-skilled ones, to economies with higher wages. How, then, can euro area countries attract or retain people? How should they harness migration flows to build strong labour forces that can power their economies? Read more here.


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INEQUALITY AND SOCIAL MOBILITY

After World War II, many EU countries adopted policies aimed at reducing poverty and inequality by providing universal social welfare benefits like health care, education, unemployment insurance, and more. For a time these programs succeeded as people enjoyed both rising living standards and higher social mobility. But in recent years, inequality has become an issue in a number of EU countries, because wage growth has been stagnant for a significant share of the population and they perceive a relative decline in economic prospects. Meanwhile, the recent financial crisis raised concerns about the affordability of welfare programs, and many European countries had to introduce ‘austerity’ measures to reduce their budget deficits. How should euro area countries reduce inequality? How can they ensure that there is fair economic opportunity in their societies and that no groups are excluded from rising overall prosperity? What impact might the recent austerity measures have on policies to reduce inequality? Read more here.


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INNOVATING FOR LONG-TERM GROWTH AND THE FUTURE OF WORK

Technological progress generally enables economic growth because it helps to boost a country’s productivity. This is especially important in advanced economies like those in Europe, where GDP growth has been gradually slowing over the last decades, and where innovation through technology is important to maintain growth and an edge in the increasingly competitive global economy. Innovations such as workplace automation and artificial intelligence can increase productivity and improve potential GDP growth, but can also disrupt existing industries and displace jobs, potentially on a larger scale compared to previous waves of innovation. However uncertain, the future of work will require significant adjustments to how the workforce is trained and re-trained. What can euro zone countries and the EU do to spur innovation and increase productivity? How can they prepare their economies and workforce to benefit from automation and new technology? Read more here.