Thursday, March 31, 2011

Met with indifference

At 43%, Spain's youth unemployment is the highest in the EU by far, and more than double the average. For those aged 16 to 19 the rate is 64% – an 11% increase on the previous year. One in five of those under the age of 30 are still looking for their first job, and almost half (46%) are on short-term contracts of less than 6 months.

Youth unemployment here is higher than in Tunisia and Egypt. It's so high that many young people have to look long and hard to see past it.

Spanish unemployment has always been stubbornly high. Even at the height of the boom it was higher than that in Britain at the depth of the economic crisis.

Electorally, most expect an increase in voter abstention among young people at the next elections. While British youth invented punk, and black America created hip hop as popular cultural responses to economic crises in previous decades, there seems to be little evidence that resistance is being expressed in other ways beyond trying to forget all about it.

Given that the situation of young people is so bad it should come as no surprise to find that Spain has one of the highest rates of cannabis and cocaine usage among its young in western Europe. The botellón, the social activity for younger people of drinking alcohol in public areas such as the streets, also increased in popularity until recent police clampdowns.

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