A recent study by the EU agency Eurofound reveals that almost half of European young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 still lives with their parents. Even more striking is the fact that this ratio increases to almost 80% in the South of Europe. Furthermore, Spain and Greece are the two EU-countries most severely afflicted by the economic crisis and now debt-laden. Young people from the southern countries have difficulties with starting a professional career and are still dependent on their parents. According to statistics, more and more young adults consider the possibility of emigration in order to find a job. Observers claim that it is high time the EU introduced some measures to tackle the problem and decrease the young unemployment rate. But looking from a different perspective it seems that the widespread dependency is just a new trend among the so called Millennials who are afraid of growing up.
Since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008, the unemployment rate in Europe has been increasing gradually, reaching an alarming ratio of 26% for Spain and 27% for Greece, with the unemployment rate among young persons between 18 and 25 being remarkably higher and reaching respectively 52,5% and 55,4%, based on the data provided by Eurostat. Young people report that despite being well educated they are not considered as attractive employees by the companies.
The experts indicate that the reasons for this situation may be diverse. First, the employees look for candidates with experience, and fresh graduates, very often having only the theoretical background, do not posses much of the practical skills. Here, we come across a vicious circle – graduates do not have practical skills, but they also cannot gain them because they are not likely to be employed without them. Spanish young adults also encounter a problem concerned with labour laws. Gayle Allard, a professor of economics at the IE Business School, in an article in The Guardian explains that “the problem with the youth is that they are coming in from the outside and they can only get temporary contracts, which makes them more vulnerable.” She explains that permanent workers are much more expensive to fire.
The inability to find a permanent job results in a situation where many young people decide to stay with their parents and seek financial support there. Studies show that young people have difficulties with finding a job, or they can find only an occupation providing very low income. Furthermore, the housing prices show the tendency to grow every year and young people do not want to start their adult lives immersed in debt. They are afraid of worsening live conditions and decide to stay at home with their parents, where they do not need to pay for rent and food.
This discloses the other side of the coin – young people do not want to make their own living because they feel that life with their families is easier. Furthermore, in countries like Italy or Spain the nuclear model of a family is embedded in culture and widely accepted, therefore the percentage of dependent grown-up children should not be that shocking. Parents often do not encourage children to make their own living, but welcome them with open arms. Young people nowadays study longer and set up their own families later in life, therefore many choose to continue living in their childhood bedrooms. Parents invite children to live with them and with years passing by, children are expected to take care of their elderly parents.
Also, the problem of unemployment for many seem to be a bit exaggerated and the situation is thought to be not as severe as the percentages show. There has been no major protests against the current state of affairs and the youth are seen as apathetic, not willing to take any social action. Juan Díez-Nicolás, a sociology professor, explains in The Guardian that the numbers are inflated as “20% of the Spanish economy is underground and a large proportion of young people work in it”. He also refers to the role of the family comparing it to “the cushion that has softened the blow of the impact of the economic crisis”.
The current level of unemployment and dependency on parents in the Southern European countries is definitely higher than in the Northern European states like Sweden or the Netherlands, however, it cannot be overlooked that it has always been greater. Furthermore, the social situation of the Generation Y, concerning access to education, political situation and social benefits is better then it has even been before. Yet, the problem of lack of jobs may worsen in the nearest future. What is important now is to avoid old and bad habits rooted in unemployment.