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Latvia faces high levels of income inequality and poverty. The tax and redistribution system only partially alleviates inequalities resulting from market incomes. Long-term unemployment and inadequate minimum social protection drive poverty among the working-age population.
Being healthy and having a good job are two of the most important ingredients associated with subjective well-being, according to the latest data from the OECD’s Better Life Index.
Latvia has undergone major economic and social change since the early 1990s. Despite an exceptionally deep recession following the global financial crisis, impressive economic growth over the past two decades has narrowed income and productivity gaps relative to comparator countries in the OECD. But Latvians report low degrees of life satisfaction, very large numbers of Latvians have left the country, and growth has not been inclusive. A volatile economy and very large income disparities create pressing needs for more effective social and labour-market policies. The government’s reform programme rightly acknowledges inequality as a key challenge. However, without sustained policy efforts and adequate resources, there is a risk that productivity and income growth could remain below potential and social cohesion could be further weakened by high or rising inequality.
This report provides a detailed diagnosis of the youth labour market and education system in Latvia from an international comparative perspective, and offers tailored recommendations to help improve school-to-work transitions. It also provides an opportunity for other countries to learn from the innovative measures that Latvia has taken to strengthen the skills of youth and their employment outcomes, notably through the implementation of a Youth Guarantee.
Latvia should step up its efforts to improve the employment prospects of young people by continuing to reform its vocational education system and pursuing the commitments made as part of the Youth Guarantee to further reduce the share of young people under 30 who are not in employment, education or training.