Austerity's children becoming Europe's "lost generation"

Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:08am EST
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By Claire Davenport

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Children across Europe are being driven into poverty by harsh government austerity and youth unemployment is soaring, threatening to create "lost generations" that could fire up a new continental crisis.

Global charity Caritas said on Thursday that around three out of every 10 children in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Spain are in or have been pushed to the brink of poverty.

Greece said its youth unemployment had now exceeded 60 percent. Spain's is above 50 percent and Portugal has just topped 40 percent.

Think tank Bruegel said the problem extended well beyond the debt-laden peripheral euro zone economies and could come back to reverse Europe's slow recovery from financial crisis.

In a report, Caritas said euro zone countries that have received international loans - plus Italy, which hasn't - are creating a huge class of poorly-educated and poorly-fed young people with low morale and few job prospects.

"This could be a recipe not just for one lost generation in Europe but for several lost generations," Caritas said, citing the European Union's own statistics.

While these countries' future workers may suffer a loss of morale, qualifications and prospects, those that struggle through are likely to take their talents elsewhere.

Those with qualifications are already leaving in droves to seek work elsewhere, particularly in Germany where the number of Spanish and Greek jobseekers almost doubled during the first half of 2012.   Continued...