Young people leaving Greece, Italy and Spain.

I have just returned from a visit to Italy and Greece. The media has been reporting on the economic trouble of both of these countries as well as those in Spain and Ireland. I visit Spain in November 2014.


What I have not seen in the media is the reports about the unemployment rate of people below the age of 25. While Greece has posted an unemployment rate of 25.6 percent, those below the age of 25 have an unemployment rate of 49.7 percent. In Italy, the unemployment rate is 12.4 percent but the unemployment rate for those under 25 is 46 percent. In Spain, it is 49.6 percent for those under 25. Thanks to the European Union, children are leaving their home countries because of the inability to find work. One young person I spoke to in Greece said that 17 of her friends had moved out of Greece and she was the last “survivor” in her group. She didn’t believe that they would ever return to Greece. My friend in Spain’s son moved to Wales to find work.

Add to this the rapidly aging population in most of the Western World. In 2013, Italy’s already low birthrate broke the 1995 record with 12,000 fewer babies born across the country, according to Italy’s national statistics agency, ISTAT. Italy’s population continues to be one of the oldest anywhere in the world, with 151.4 over 65’s for every 100 under 15’s. Fewer Italians across the country are attending university, and an increasing number of those who do, according to ISTAT, are dropping out. In 2012-13 academic year, 56 of every 100 university students finished their degree. The consequence of all this is that young people have lost faith not only in the institutions, but also in the value of education.

In the United States, the unemployment rate is 5.4%. But 22.9 percent of those under 25 cannot find work. It is higher for minority students. Will these unemployed young people leave the country in order to find work?

When young people leave a country, what happens to the taxes they would have paid? Who will pay for the social services that older or retired workers depend on? Something to think about!