Generation Why: Well, At Least We're Not Europe

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
generation why well at least we re not europe

Yet another bit of bleak data from Europe relating to new car sales. A popular school of thought holds that young people’s aversion to cars is largely rooted in economic factors. When everyone under 30 is broke, living at home and wallowing in student debt, the last thing on their mind is a car. But the hope is that once things turn around, it will be time for Generation Y to get motoring again. At least in North America. Over in Europe (or certain parts of it, at least) things are much more bleak.

Youth unemployment in countries like Greece and Spain are at staggering levels. 54.2 percent of Greek youth are unemployed according to the above chart from The Atlantic. Spain is a little behind – or slightly exceeding Spain, depending on your source s. The situation is less severe in other Eurozone countries, but still bad, as evidence by the figures for France, Ireland and the Eurozone as a whole. Germany remains a standout, as its youth unemployment rate of 8.2 percent is half of the United States’ rate and a third of the Eurozone’s.

As the Atlantic article states, the unemployment crisis has been dragging on for years now, and there appears to be little end in sight. A “lost generation” of workers will of course mean a lost generation of car buyers for Europe’s auto makers. If anyone is buying anything, it’s low cost cars, as evidenced by the astonishing success of brands like Dacia, which have cannibalized sales of Renault in France.

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  • TW4 TW4 on May 10, 2013

    The problem in the US is pretty straight forward. We have "stay in school" culture. While "stay in school" seems like a good message on the surface, we are actually teaching people not to bother with a career until after their schooling is complete. "Experts" throw around a bunch of scary statistics about mediocre pay, and about the reduced likelihood of collegiate graduation if a full-time career is started after high school. The solution, they claim, is to postpone career work until you are 25-30, and borrow money to obtain degrees now. We end up with a society of relatively worthless academics with very little real world experience and lots of debt. You should start working as many hours as you can handle at 14-15, and work on creating a marketable skill set. If you go to college, work full time or nearly full time. The tweed-swaddled university academics you employ should be educating you on a schedule that is compatible with student occupations, not some arcane schedule that is patterned around faculty coffee breaks and research meetings. Why don't we do things this way? b/c our culture, which really couldn't care less about young people, decided that it was better to have no work experience and higher GPA, than marketable skills and average grades. Since clothing, feeding, and housing yourself requires funding, which necessitates paid occupation (not educational training), the people who subscribe to this culture are your sworn enemies. Tie them to the nearest telephone pole, blind fold them, and call in an air strike. The most egregious offenders, of course, are America's corporations, who frequently put academic signaling (school name, degree, Greek society, etc) and GPA above bulletproof resumes and work experience. Everyone suffers.......except the academics, school administrators, lending companies, and educational bureaucrats. Who would have guessed they'd create a culture that focuses on what they want, regardless of how irrelevant it may be to real life?

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    • Corntrollio Corntrollio on May 13, 2013

      @TW4 "Five years after a student graduates, few people really care where they went to school or what grades they earned, but we aren’t talking about 5 years down the road." Exactly, which is what I was saying -- people who hire actually look at work experience. At best it's a tie-breaker if you have two or more equally good candidates. For almost any job, if you have prior experience in a field, you will have a leg up over other candidates. "We have entire sectors of the US economy that extend auto-hire and signing bonuses to recent grads who earn degrees from certain schools with certain gpa’s and participation in certain organizations." What jobs are these? I'm not aware of them, but maybe I should be.

  • Sooke Sooke on May 10, 2013

    If we got rid of minimum wage laws, unemployment would disappear. Instead of workers competing for jobs, employers would compete for workers.

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    • Danio3834 Danio3834 on May 10, 2013

      @rpn453 "People compete for minimum wage jobs?" Yes believe it or not. There are many people who don't have the aptitude to offer a minimum wage's worth of productivity.

  • Speedster356 Speedster356 on May 10, 2013

    Statistics do not always depict the truth. Car ownership does not always mean the same in all countries and cultures. Parents will often actually buy a (new) car for their kids once the turn 18. This means that the car is paid by the parents and that it is registered to the parents, despite the fact that it is many times used exclusively by the kids. Also the tax regime here makes it simpler for most people to register their cars in their parents. I bought my 2007 VW EOS 1.6 FSI new with my money but found it less complicated to register it to my mother. I also use for work a 2010 Skoda Yeti 1.2 TSI that my dad paid and registered (That replaced the 1993 Opel Astra 1.4 GT my parents got me as a first car). I am 38, single, with 2 jobs and still find it less complex to register my cars to my parents. I am not exactly a characteristic case here, but most young drivers under 30 do not actually own on paper their ride.

  • Sgt Beavis Sgt Beavis on May 10, 2013

    I find this conversation interesting but I'm keeping an eye on whether or not the youth in those countries start to organize. A very large demographic with little hope is fuse waiting to be lit. Armed revolution is very much possible. The Occupy Movement in the US was a small example but as noted in the numbers, the number of unemployed youth here are not nearly large as in Greece or Italy. Occupy also marginalized itself through its actions. If they had done it right, they would have had a chance.

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    • Corntrollio Corntrollio on May 10, 2013

      @Summicron "but look who’s knocking on Italy’s back door." I believe Silvio Berlusconi may have knocked on quite a few of them during his "bunga-bunga" parties.