Will the millennial generation be skipped over in its quest for prosperity?

by Grace


College-educated young Europeans are asking themselves what went wrong in their quest for a lifestyle at least as prosperous as that of their parents.

The question is being asked by millions of young Europeans. Five years after the economic crisis struck the Continent, youth unemployment has climbed to staggering levels in many countries: in September, 56 percent in Spain for those 24 and younger, 57 percent in Greece, 40 percent in Italy, 37 percent in Portugal and 28 percent in Ireland. For people 25 to 30, the rates are half to two-thirds as high and rising.

Those are Great Depression-like rates of unemployment, and there is no sign that European economies, still barely emerging from recession, are about to generate the jobs necessary to bring those Europeans into the work force soon, perhaps in their lifetimes.

Dozens of interviews with young people around the Continent reveal a creeping realization that the European dream their parents enjoyed is out of reach. It is not that Europe will never recover, but that the era of recession and austerity has persisted for so long that new growth, when it comes, will be enjoyed by the next generation, leaving this one out.

Meanwhile, in the United States:

For the first time in memory, adults in the United States under age forty are now expected to be poorer than their parents. This is the kind of grim reality that in other times and places spurred young people to look abroad for opportunity. Indeed, it is similar to the factors that once pushed millions of people to emigrate from their home countries to make their home in America. Our nation of immigrants is, tautologically, a nation of emigrants.

3 Comments to “Will the millennial generation be skipped over in its quest for prosperity?”

  1. There is an oversimplification in “similar to the factors that once pushed millions of people to emigrate from their home countries to make their home in America”. For unemployment to drive emigration there must be a much better life elsewhere (or at least the illusion of one). There are few places now that are doing better than the US in terms of youth employment—those places that have higher employment often have much lower wages. Austria and Germany may be attractive, but they can’t absorb many immigrants, and EU residents are likely to have considerable precedence over US residents. The bad economy in the US slowed the rate of immigration, but did not result in emigration.


  2. We also forget just how bad things were, both here and overseas, in the 70’s and early 80’s. When I looked up current European unemployment stats, virtually ever reference came with quotes like “The worst since 1986”, the “worst since 1980”, and so on. Remember the riots in England over youth unemployment in the early 80’s? And even in this country, there was constant talk about how my generation was doomed to poverty because of structural problems in the economy. When I graduated, it was bleak. Virtually no one got a job at graduation. Everyone temped or went to grad school


  3. gasstation — You’re right, and the snippet I posted didn’t elaborate on the author’s idea that we’re “emigrating” to the Internet.

    “Yet while our ancestors had America as their ultimate destination, it is not immediately obvious where those seeking opportunity might head today. Every square foot of earth is already spoken for by one (or more) nation states, every physical frontier long since closed.

    With our bodies hemmed in, our minds have only the cloud — and it is the cloud that has become the destination for an extraordinary mental exodus. Hundreds of millions of people have now migrated to the cloud, spending hours per day working, playing, chatting, and laughing in real-time HD resolution with people thousands of miles away … without knowing their next-door neighbors.”


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