Hvor ble det av ungdomsopprøret? Med en ledighet på nær 60 % burde gatene ha kokt i Spania og Hellas. Men det skjer ikke. De unge bor hjemme, og overlever, men har ingen fremtid. Det bygger seg opp en «sullen anger» over hele Europa. Guardian.


As economic and social disaster unfolded in 2012 and 2013, the youth of Greece became invisible in social and economic life. The young have been largely absent from politics, social movements and even from the spontaneous social networks that have dealt with the worst of the catastrophe. On the fifth anniversary of the events of 2008, barely a few hundred young people demonstrated in Greek urban centres. There was no tension, no passion, no spirit, just tired processions repeating well-known slogans. Where were the 17-year-olds from five years ago?

Similar patterns can be observed in several other European countries, though perhaps not as extreme. What is the youth of Portugal doing as the country’s social structures continue to collapse? Where is the youth of France as the country drifts further into stagnation and irrelevance? And, closer to home, where has the youth of Britain been while the coalition government has persevered with austerity?

The answer seems to be that the European youth has been battered by a «double whammy» of problematic access to education and rising unemployment, forcing young people to rely on family support and curtailing their independence. Uncertain about the future, worried about jobs and housing, the youth of Europe shows no confidence and trust in established political parties. Significant sections have already been attracted to the nihilistic ends of the political spectrum, including varieties of anarchism and fascism. The left, traditionally a home for the radical strivings of young people, has lost its appeal.

Take education. As the Greek crisis deepened, large numbers of students were forced to accelerate, or even interrupt, their studies. There are no relevant official indicators of these trends, but anecdotal evidence abounds, and fits with other aggregate statistics. In 2008, Greek households spent, on average, 17% of their disposable income on education, and low-income families more than 20%. This was already a high proportion, reflecting the importance traditionally placed on schooling in Greek society. As the crisis unfolded over the next five years, the proportion doubled, making education an unbearable burden.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development reported that in 2011, 15% of people aged 15-29 were not in education, employment or training. In Greece, Ireland, Italy and Spain this proportion was 20%, and the latest EU data indicates that in 2012 things became worse in the three southern countries.

Conditions are even harsher with regard to work. Youth unemployment in Europe is a little short of 25%, already a huge number, while in Greece and Spain it has reached extraordinary figures, in the vicinity of 60%. Collapsing youth employment is clearly not the result of more young people seeking jobs, since the number of young people in Europe as a proportion of the population is declining fast. Youth unemployment is rising because the economies of Europe are failing to generate significant numbers of jobs. For those under the age of 25, there are no jobs in the southern countries and few decent jobs in the north. Mass youth unemployment is the reality across Europe, and things are far from rosy even in Germany, the supposed winner of the past few years.