This study proposes a new approach to the analysis of non-employment and its duration in Germany, Italy and Spain using administrative longitudinal databases. Non-employment includes the discouraged unemployed not entitled to draw unemployment benefits and the long-term inactive. Many of the non-employed individuals will never return to the official labour market. We estimate the magnitude and duration of non-employment, applying the survival methodology developed in recent years to deal with 'workforce disposal'. Longterm non-employment (LTNE) may lead to dramatic changes in individual lifestyles, family and childbearing projects, levels of poverty and welfare at large.