ESF participants are counted as belonging to a disadvantaged group when they:
- live in a household without any income from employment;
- live in a household with dependent children and no income from employment;
- live in a single-adult household with dependent children;
- form part of the group of first-generation immigrants;
- are receiving an occupational disability benefit;
- are homeless;
- belong to another disadvantaged group (i.e. the target group VSO-Pro or V&J).

In the Netherlands rural areas are not considered disadvantaged areas. In the Dutch monitor, participants living in rural areas as marked in the regional classification are therefore not included in the disadvantaged groups. This could be different in other countries.

Participants who belong to multiple disadvantaged groups are only counted once in the datasets as belonging to a disadvantaged group.

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