Policies for young people
We are experiencing a generational regression for the first time. The social elevator, which had greatly improved the status of previous generations, has ground to a halt. To date, welfare policies have focused on the protection of the elderly and the destitute. It is time to also design social policies for young people.
One of the least-anticipated changes that may exert the most impact on the future is the widespread precariousness facing the younger generation. It’s not just the ten years lost on account of the crisis. The fact is that, having overcome the recession, the reality in which they are immersed has nothing to do with their expectations, let alone those that their parents had at their age. Following decades of stability and social progress, rising inequalities and declining social mobility create an explosive cocktail that is sparking riots and conflicts all over the world.
In the case of Spain, we are experiencing a generational regression for the first time. The social elevator, which had greatly improved the status of previous generations, has ground to a halt. Equal opportunities are threatened. Worsening working conditions condemn many young people to a horizon teeming with uncertainty, if not poverty.
Social change is triggering sweeping changes in the way young people think and live. Especially noteworthy are the changes in electoral behaviour: generations born into democracy live politics much differently than those who have gone before. They are much more aware of the environmental emergency, they have embraced feminism, and, while they are generally more individualistic, young people also push for new and nurturing forms of solidarity and co-operation.
It’s part of the capacity for resilience to adapt to the circumstances, but the changes young people effect, at times with banners, at other times with small everyday life decisions, stretch far beyond mere resistance. They carry the seed of deep transformations. To date, welfare policies have focused on the protection of the elderly and the destitute. It is time to also design social policies for young people, active employment policies and pre-distribution measures to guarantee the livelihood and well-being to which they are entitled.
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