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The lost generation: what is true about the myth…

Esposito, M. & Tse, T. (2014) “The lost generation: what is true about the myth…”, LSE – Euro Crisis in the Press, 07 April.


If we were to believe the forecasts from the European Commission, unemployment in the Eurozone appears to have started – at long last – showing signs of small but fragile recovery. However, that does not mean we can rest on our laurels as the economic outlook in the near term remains rather bleak. We can still expect a bumpy ride lying ahead through peaks and troughs, crashes and reboots. This ride is likely to be especially harsh for the growing army of jobless youths.

Unlike past economic crises, the burden left by the most recent one has not been shared proportionally among workers of different generations. Those aged between 15 and 24 are paying a high price, if not the highest in the aftermath of the crisis. The issue of youth unemployment used to only haunt weaker economies, such as those of southern Europe. For instance, both Greece and Spain have hit 50% in recent years. However, the current crisis has even brought the issue to those countries that are supposedly the richest and economically most robust: the US youth unemployment rate is some 16%, while in the UK and France, it is 20% and 25%, respectively. Even worse is that the youth unemployment issue has been deteriorating over time. While youth unemployment often refers to the number of those who are jobless, many of those who are lucky enough to be in employment are actually holding on to short-term and temporary contracts. Very often they have no choice because they have been locked out of the job market where permanent positions, occupied by the older generations, are protected by rigid labor market regulations.


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