Spanish Welfare: Austerity & Protest

Europe in Crisis

Spain’s “Lost Generation”

In this report by Al Jazeera English a young man my age, 22, eats a meal paid for by the Spanish government before walking away into an abyss of unemployment and homelessness. Today, Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the EU with 22.9 percent of the Spanish population out of work. Moreover, 48.6 percent of youth under the age of 24 are jobless and many seek to leave Spain to find work where it might be available. One such place is Germany. As can be seen in the video, newly graduated youth take language courses to learn the German language before they head off in search of a more “job friendly economy.” However, for most young people in Spain moving out of the country is simply not an option due to financial constraints.

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4 thoughts on “Spain’s “Lost Generation”

  1. Sarah Hofgesang on said:

    I wonder if mass youth unemployment and “brain drain” to countries like Germany with better job prospects will ultimately slow Spanish economic growth even further. Greece is facing a similar youth exodus to Germany. Though the social welfare mechanisms are expensive, I suspect that countries that are able to keep well-educated youth in-borders and honing their skills in some way will benefit in the long-term.

    • I think it’s logical to say that a significant “brain drain” from any country, especially over a prolonged period of time, is detrimental to economic growth. The world saw this in the former Soviet Union states during he 1990s.

      I think a good question to ask is how much of this “work force drain” can be contributed to skilled workers and how much can be contributed to unskilled? (not sure if you’d have any numbers on this – although I bet the Spanish government is trying to figure that out!)

  2. Reported in this article, http://tiny.cc/r8r7n , is that for the first time in decades more people are leaving Spain than coming in. “A total of 507,740 people left the country and only 417,523 came in.” Among those leaving of course is a high number of youth seeking work not only in Germany but France, the UK, Poland, Norway and even Eastern European countries. The article hints that depending on what skills you have will determine what country you emigrate to. If I were in Spain I would want to be in the business of teaching foregin languages! But I can’t imagine that this could be good for Spain in any way. Draining Spain of well educated and middle class youth can strain the economy by reducing the number of consumers and lowering state tax revenue needed for welfare program reform and stimulus.

  3. This is an alarming situation that might spell trouble for German and the EU in general. If the mass immigration continues in Germany we might see a similar situation to the one that occurred in Spain, which experienced large influx of immigrants into the country during their decade-long economic boom. It would certainly put strain on the welfare resources in Germany and present new challenges to the EU regarding free movement of people as Germany will likely pursue protectionism policies to protect it own citizens from foreign competition for the available jobs.

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