The twentieth anniversary of the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) is approaching. As a strategic meeting around world population issues is in preparation (ICPD beyond 2014), this is a good time to review past achievements and define new challenges. The UNECE countries of Europe, Central Asia, and North America constitute a globally relevant laboratory in which much can be learned about population trends and the relationship between policies and outcomes that may subsequently play out in other parts of the globe.
The current economic downturn is having major adverse impacts on the economic performance of North America and Europe, causing many countries to enter into recession. Besides a considerable fall in asset prices, there have been substantial increases in unemployment and financial hardship (Scarpetta et al. 2010). In particular, the crisis has hit the young population very hard (Bell et al. 2011). According to official OECD statistics (2013), the overall unemployment rate for the working age population (15-65) has increased by +3.3% between 2007 and 2012 in the EU-21. In the same time frame, unemployment rate has increased by +4.6% for young people aged 30-34, by +5.1% for those aged 25-29, and by +7.3 for those aged 20-24.