Youth and children in Europe set the new perspectives for the decades to come

European Parliament. Conference: Children on the move: will the EU deliver on its commitments? From left to right: Cecilia Malstrom, Salvatore Parata , Farah Abdi Abdullahi. (EC Audiovisual Services 19/2/2014).

European Parliament. Conference: Children on the move: will the EU deliver on its commitments? From left to right: Cecilia Malstrom, Salvatore Parata, Farah Abdi Abdullahi. (EC Audiovisual Services 19/2/2014).

The share of children of less than 15% in a population is a powerful and polyvalent indicator. For one thing, it accurately predicts the strength or the frailness of the country’s most valuable asset for the next decades, which is its human capital in productive age. The obvious value of the related statistics led Eurostat, the EU statistical service, to undertake extensive and exhaustive work on this subject. The result of this endeavor was published last Thursday. It’s a memorable study focusing on facts and figures about youth and children in the EU, entitled “What it means to be young in the European Union today”.

Fewer children

In this context the most important variable that Eurostat followed is the share of children in the total population as it evolved during the past twenty years (1994-2013). Given that all EU countries have reached a certain level of economic development which guarantees basic amenities, one would expect that the most affluent European societies would be the most fertile in this respect. It’s not like that though. Eurostat also examined the average age at which the young people (15-29) leave the parental household in the 28 member states. In this front there were no surprises. In the most advanced and affluent Nordic member states the young leave the parental household earlier than elsewhere in Europe. Let’s take one thing at a time.

The most important finding of this research work was that overall Europe raises fewer and fewer children. In 1994 the share of children of less than 15 years was on the average 18.6% in all member states. Twenty years later this percentage dropped to 15.6%. Only Denmark escaped from this impairment. Eurostat predicts however that this percentage will continue decreasing to just 15% by the year 2050. Is this enough to support a strong work force? Barely so. Most certainly Europe would need to ‘import’ an indeterminate number of more and more immigrants, if it wants to safeguard its main asset that is its human capital.

Surprise, surprise!

Now let’s examine what happened in the various member states. As mentioned above one would expect that the most affluent member states would emerge ahead of others, regarding the share of children in the population. Nevertheless reality was different and statistics confirmed it. Understandably Eurostat must have been very meticulous in calculating that.

Germany, one of the richest member states, came to be at the bottom of the list, being the less productive nation as far as human reproduction is concerned. In 2014 Germany showed the smallest share of children (0-14) in the population amongst the 28 member states with a mere 13.1%. During the same year Ireland proved to be the country with the largest share of children with 22%. Twenty years ago, in 1994 this country also posed the largest share of children in the population (25.2%).

Germany looses children

To be noted that all along this era Ireland suffered from long periods of severe economic difficulties. Still, economic troubles didn’t prevent its population to be very fertile in producing the next generations, according to Eurostat. Probably the well known religious devotion of the Irish people may have played an important role here.

Regarding Germany’s poor record in children raising, it may be one more indication of the fast growing incomes inequality in this country. As a result, an increasing number of young couples are deprived of the economic fundamentals to raise children. The young are the main victims of incomes inequality. The combination of high rents and the very low starting wages for youths hits primarily the young couples, in their prime age to have children. That’s why the German youth doesn’t leave the parental home before the age of 24-25, despite a different tradition. German youths used to leave their family household soon after accomplishing secondary education, by assuming employment, apprenticeship or continuing studies in another city.

Going away

This brings us to the next part of Eurostat’s study devoted to the age when the young Europeans (15-29) decide to leave the parental home. In this front Eurostat turned out no surprising statistical results. As noted above, in the Nordic and more affluent countries the young tend to leave the home of their parents very early, at the age of 19.6 in Sweden, 21 in Denmark and 21.9 in Finland. It’s a bit of a surprise though that the young German chaps (males) don’t abandon the security of their parental household before the age of 25.

The picture is totally different in the south. The average age to leave parents’ home is in Croatia 31.9, in Slovakia 30.7, in Malta 30.1, in Italy 29.9 and in Greece 29.3. Of course, the shocking unemployment rates that prevail in the south are a factor of paramount importance in this respect. In the Nordic countries youth unemployment is minimal compared with the massive rates of the jobless young persons prevailing in Greece, Italy and elsewhere in Europe’s south.

How do they communicate?

Last but not least Eurostat found that more than 80% of young people in the EU participate in social networks. More precisely “In 2014, almost 9 out of 10 persons (87%) aged 16-29 used the internet on a daily basis in the EU”. The young access the internet in a different way than their parents. According to the same source “…almost three-quarters (74%) of young people in the EU used a mobile phone to access the internet, compared with less than half (44%) of the total population”. In conclusion, the internet is now built-in factor in the way of life of the young.

There is no doubt that being young in Europe today is a lot different than it was twenty years ago. Children and young people of today have a distinctly different way of life, compared to the previous generations. They have much less standard life and employment prospects than their parents. The falling share of children (0-15) in the population, the skyrocketing unemployment rates of the young (16-29) and the way the youth communicate today inevitably set the new social, economic and political perspectives for the decades to come.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Parliament pushes for cleaner cars on EU roads by 2030

Cities: a ’cause of and solution to’ climate change

5 amazing people fighting to save the oceans

Brexit: Six more months of political paralysis or a May-Corbyn compromise?

The Recruitment of Children as Soldiers Explained

How to build a better world for heart health after COVID-19

This start-up is making a palm oil alternative from used coffee grounds

UN health agency identifies 5-year-old Congolese boy as first confirmed case of Ebola in Uganda

UN launches ‘South-South Galaxy’ knowledge-sharing platform in Buenos Aires

Ministers for Youth miss the opportunity to improve social inclusion of young people

Does the EU want GMOs and meat with hormones from the US?

I went blind at age 5, but managed to stay in education. We must ensure 93 million children with disabilities get the same chance

How to change the world at Davos

Teen activist Greta Thunberg arrives in New York by boat, putting ‘climate crisis’ in spotlight

A Sting Exclusive: “China is Making Good Stories not Bad Ones”, Ambassador Yang highlights from Brussels

Ninja innovation and the future of work

The German automotive industry under the Trump spell

Improving coverage of mental health services

25 years after population conference, women still face challenges to ‘well-being and human rights’, says UN chief

NextGenerationEU: Commission presents next steps for €672.5 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility in 2021 Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy

How a new encryption technique can help protect privacy amid COVID-19

Thoughtful blockchain implementation is key to improving supply chains in a post-COVID world

4 simple ways to make your holiday season more sustainable

Azerbaijan chooses Greek corridor for its natural gas flow to EU

Migration crisis: how big a security threat it is?

EU is officially in recession

These 5 charts show our shifting behaviour around coronavirus

Safety fits into our palms: The role of mobile technology in healthcare systems and life saving

Eurozone: Economic Sentiment Indicator recovering losses

FROM THE FIELD: ‘Harvested’ rainwater saves Tanzanian students from stomach ulcers, typhoid

Thank you COVID-19

European Court rules that ECB’s OMT program of 2012 is OK; not a word from Germany about returning the Greek 2010 courtesy

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Refinitiv by London Stock Exchange Group, subject to conditions

UNESCO lists wrestling, reggae and raiho-shin rituals as global treasures to be preserved

Importance of Mental Health and keeping it together in a Pandemic 

UN calls for support to implement Central Africa’s newly minted peace agreement

July was the hottest month ever – what does that actually mean?

First EU collective redress mechanism to protect consumers

EuroLat: serious concern about migration and support to multilateral trade

Who will secure Lithuania?

How to build a paradise for women. A lesson from Iceland

These countries have the most expensive childcare

Why we need a Paris Agreement for nature

Social, cultural diversity ‘an enormous richness, not a threat’ Guterres declares calling on investment for a harmonious future

Female directors reached record highs in 2019 Hollywood

Privatisation and public health: a question of Human Rights

Venezuela: UN human rights office calls for ‘maximum restraint’ by authorities in face of new demonstrations

Death as a Global Public Health Issue

Student-to-Tutor Ratio: if things are to change, why not for the better?

With 5 billion set to miss out on health care, UN holds landmark summit to boost coverage

‘Ghost fishing’ is threatening our oceans. Here’s how we can tackle it

Commission launches debate on a gradual transition to more efficient and democratic decision-making in EU tax policy

8 female CEOs on bridging the gender gap in tech

COVID-19: MEPs extend relief measures for the transport sector

China’s impact as a global investor; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Ride-hailing apps are making the developing world’s traffic problems worse

Multilateralism’s ‘proven record of service’ is focus of first-ever International Day

‘Provocative actions and inflammatory rhetoric’ destabilizing Middle East, warns top UN official

Britain in and out of the EU

Why we need artists who strive for social change

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s