A Global Lost Generation

(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

  When Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia he set in motion a series of events that would topple governments across the Arab world. Because of the worlds-shaping events that followed, it is almost forgotten that the reason Bouazizi comitted suicide was simply his frustration and anguish over not having a job and a future.

 Across the world today, Bouazizi’s pain is being felt by a global generation. It isn’t limited to any one country, region, or continent. Almost the entire world has turned its back on the youth of the world in one way or another.

  It’s not a situation that the global economy or political system is capable of dealing with, and the consequences will continue to echo long after most of us reading this have passed on.

 Too late the world leaders are waking up to this building crisis.

 The world, they say, is “sitting on a social and economic time bomb”. The world is plagued by youth unemployment.

  The numbers are stark: In some countries of the Arab world, up to 90% of 16-24 year olds are unemployed. In the United States the youth unemployment rate is 23%. In Spain nearly 50%. In the UK 22%.

  Worldwide, some 200 million people are unemployed. 75 million are between 16 and 24 and every year about 40 million young people are entering the workforce.

 The youth unemployment rate in Ireland is 29%.

In Greece the youth unemployment rate is 46%.

  In Spain it is a staggering 51.4%.

Across the entire EU the youth unemployment rate is 22.7%. The cost to the economies of these countries are in the 1-3% of GDP range.

 While the youth unemployment rate in United States is a more “modest” 23%, it is worth noting that it is at about the same levels that triggered the Arab Spring.

 If that wasn’t bad enough, the real number is considerably worse once you factor in youth that never even had a chance to become counted as unemployed. This is the first time in half a century that less than half of the youth in this country are working, and is the lowest percentage since records have been kept.

 While getting a college degree certainly helps your chances at getting a job, it is nowhere near the certainty that it used to be.

 According to the NY Times only 53% of college graduates from the classes 2006-2010 are employed full-time. Even recent graduates who are working will make 10% less in their first job than graduates from just a few years ago, down to $27,000 a year.

The long-term costs

 A individual who has a career setback as a youth is a tragedy. An entire generation that has their career’s delayed or sidetracked is a disaster.

 The business leaders at the World Economic Forum (WEF) know why it matters: Young people who were unemployed for a long time will earn less throughout their whole lives.

  They will be less employable. They won’t have the skills that business needs. They are more likely to have long-term health problems. And it can cause social unrest.

  There’s a term for it: Lost generation.

 In an age where more and more of the population will be retired, we can’t afford to have the young generation unable to find work to pay taxes. In the long-term, we are looking at an entire generation with fewer employable skills, thus impeding economic growth across the world.

 And then there are the short-term costs that become long-term costs.

 Young men are already more likely to break the law than most; having more free time, more motive and less to lose hardly discourages them. Some researchers claim to have identified a causal link between increased youth unemployment and increases in crime, specifically property crime (robbery, burglary, car theft and damage) and drug offences. No such link is seen for overall unemployment. If the crime leads to prison, future employment prospects fall off a cliff.

  Research from the United States and Britain has found that youth unemployment leaves a “wage scar” that can persist into middle age. The longer the period of unemployment, the bigger the effect. Take two men with the same education, literacy and numeracy scores, places of residence, parents’ education and IQ. If one of them spends a year unemployed before the age of 23, ten years later he can expect to earn 23% less than the other. For women the gap is 16%.

 The long-term costs come from other directions as well.

  Despite these dire numbers, the primary reason for the youth protesting this past year wasn’t unemployment. It was the cost of higher education.

 Student debt is already greater than credit card debt (that happened in 2010) and will soon pass $1 trillion. According to expert Mark Kantrowitz, total student loan debt is increasing at a rate of about $2,853.88 per second. Two thirds of the undergraduate class of 2010 graduated with student debt, at an average of more than $25,000 per student.

 Thus, students are pressured to get a college degree in order to have a shot at the American dream. But most of them can’t afford to get that degree without going deeply into debt, a debt that can never be written off with bankruptcy.

  And now those same youth are looking at a future in which they may not be able to get a job that will enable them to pay off those student debts. It’s a damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t scenario.

  This unsustainable situation is starting to prompt economists predict disastrous outcomes.

The worst betrayal of all

 The economies of India and China have grown at rapid rates for the past decade, so its not the first place you would look for a Lost Generation.

  However, a Lost Generation is indeed what has taken place. The difference here is that the generation was destroyed a decade or more ago, literally.

 In China and northern India more than 120 boys are being born for every 100 girls. Nature dictates that slightly more males are born than females to offset boys’ greater susceptibility to infant disease. But nothing on this scale.

   For those such as this newspaper, who think abortion should be “safe, legal and rare” (to use Bill Clinton’s phrase), a lot depends on the circumstances, but the cumulative consequence for societies of such individual actions is catastrophic. China alone stands to have as many unmarried young men-“bare branches”, as they are known-as the entire population of young men in America. In any country rootless young males spell trouble; in Asian societies, where marriage and children are the recognised routes into society, single men are almost like outlaws. Crime rates, bride trafficking, sexual violence, even female suicide rates are all rising and will rise further as the lopsided generations reach their maturity.

   It is no exaggeration to call this gendercide. Women are missing in their millions-aborted, killed, neglected to death. In 1990 an Indian economist, Amartya Sen, put the number at 100m; the toll is higher now.

 In less than 8 years it is estimated that there will be 30 million more men in China than women.

 This gendercide isn’t limited to China, nor is it predominate in poorer regions. In fact the most prosperous regions often have the worst disparities. Another 10 million girls are missing in India.

 Nothing like this has ever happened in history, so there is no way to know what the effects will be. We could be looking at something as harmless as a rise in homosexuality. Or something as harmful as a breakdown in society through crime and war. Only in the musing of science fiction has this situation ever been broached.

  No one knows what the future holds, but we are seeing the distortions already.

 Boys are kidnapped by families who want a male heir and do not care where they get him. Girls are taken to be brought up as child brides for cherished, spoiled boys, who will not have to worry about the increasing shortage of girls.

1 comment

  1. First thing that should die is the concept of money which would kill this “ism” of needing a job by which to measure your particular contribution status towards those Davos jet setting captains of the now dying western civilizations.  You don’t see the barracks attached to the IPod factory from the Bible belt, the rust belt or from the People’s Republic of Cambridge Mass.  We don’t ask why we don’t feed the starving disadvantaged of the world when we possibly could given the advertizing budget of some green lizard with an accent who wants to sell us the WalMartization business model of auto insurance.  Wow, that was actually very good.

    But what do you mean here.  The India China billion man marketplace, whom very few idiot sociopaths wanted to exploit control and dominate for wicked cheap labor and their own profit and ego margins from might just backfire because they wanted to be control freaks.

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