Global Business and Economics Program Assistant Director Andrew Chrismer writes for US News and World Report on the new development strategy needed to provide employment for Europe’s youth:
A wave of young, unemployed citizens took to the streets in protest of eurozone austerity policies across southern Europe starting in 2009. Although the protests have waned, perhaps to weariness, the problem has not gone away – it’s gotten worse. Many youth who have been chronically unemployed in southern European countries like France and Spain have stayed so for almost half a decade, and for many who first entered the job market during the Great Recession, unemployment has been their only adult reality. A jobless recovery is ultimately unsustainable economically and socially. If southern Europe plans to remain strong and stable in the long term, governments must address deep structural inefficiencies within economic policies before a lost decade becomes a lost generation.
The eurozone’s austerity policies hit youth especially hard at the onset of the Great Recession in Europe. Debt-heavy countries like France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Greece followed the European Central Bank’s and the European Commission’s policy recommendations to get budgets balanced, cut public spending, slash entitlement programs, decrease minimum wages for young people and raise minimum retirement ages. This was met with a drastic, across-the-board drop in consumption, a mechanism that fuels economic growth. Decreases in retirement rates and a decrease in public sector investment in research and development, infrastructure revitalization and job training programs all increased the negative impact on young job seekers entering the market. The scenario was entering crisis before the Great Recession hit Europe, and after austerity, youth unemployment across southernEurope ranged from 24 percent in France to nearly 60 percent in Greece by the end of 2013.