No country for young men; Italy's "lost generation"

Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:38am EDT
 
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By Deepa Babington

ROME (Reuters) - Once kept at home by love for mamma's home-cooked pasta, a growing number of young Italians are now forced to live with their parents because they can't get a steady job or afford a home of their own.

When estate agents showed a young couple a rental apartment in Rome this year, they got a shock: the would-be tenants arrived with a gang of friends with bottles of bubbly wine.

The "protest party" was a set-up concocted by the couple who made a date to view a flat they knew they could not afford.

The serious purpose was to highlight the fact that renting a home is beyond the reach of many young Italians, the segment of society hardest hit by the economic crisis.

"We wanted to talk about the fact that a lot of Italians just can't afford to leave their parents' home," said Chiara Bastianni, 25, of the "Fai la Valigia" (Pack your bags) group behind the unorthodox protest. "It's a type of provocation."

Landing a steady job has long been hard for the young but a shrinking economy has choked off the few jobs available to them. Connections are essential to nab the few positions available in the bloated public sector, while businesses often hire workers only on short-term contracts to dodge rigid labor laws.

After the steep recession in 2008-2009, nearly 60 percent of 18-34-year-olds now live with their parents, up from 49 percent in 1983, national statistics agency Istat says.

Nearly a third of people in their early 30s are still living with their parents -- a figure that has tripled since 1983.   Continued...