Youth Speaking Out

CliftJBy Jeremy Clift

Young people, hardest hit by the global economic downturn, are speaking out and demanding change. Coming of age in the Great Recession, the world’s youth face an uncertain future, with lengthening job lines, diminished opportunities, and bleaker prospects that are taking a heavy emotional toll.

Some people call them the iPod generation—insecure, pressured, overtaxed, and debt-ridden—but insecure or not, around the world young people are challenging a system that appears to have let many down. “Young people want a world economy that is more just, more equal, and more human,” says Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Differing impact on generations

Youth Demanding Change

The Great Recession has taken its toll on the different generations in different ways. For the post–World War II baby boom generation, it’s essentially a wealth crisis. A generation that had hoped to retire has seen the value of its property and savings dramatically eroded. For the group known as Gen X (born 1965–80), it’s an income crisis. They should be in the period of their life when they are earning the most, but the downturn has depressed their salaries and threatens their pensions. For Gen Y (1981–2000), it’s about their future and the potentially damaging legacy of the boomer generation.

In recent issues of the magazine, we have looked at the impact of aging populations on economies around the world and how inequality affects growth.

In the March 2012 issue of F&D, we look at the need to urgently address the challenges facing youth and create opportunities for them. Watch a video on this.

Harvard professor David Bloom lays out the scope of the problem and emphasizes the importance of listening to young people.

Other articles look at the need to improve education and skill levels, the effect of the crisis on youth in advanced economies, and the role of the IMF. We also speak to six young people around the world about their hopes and aspirations and how the crisis has affected them.

Also in the magazine,

2017-04-15T14:11:08-05:00March 5, 2012|


  1. Per Kurowski March 5, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    If I was young I would occupy Basel and requests that the Basel Committee set their capital requirements for banks not based on something as purposeless and systemically dangerous as perceived risks of default, but based on something useful like the jobs-for-the-youth-creation-potential ratings.

  2. George Naumovski March 6, 2012 at 3:11 am

    The majority live to serve the ruling minority. Governments of each nation make laws, pass laws and enforce laws that allow the business elites to do what they want and it is we, the majority, that feeds them as all we do is complain about it but still worship the elites.

    Occupy are just useless rubbish. The business elites laugh at them and the government enforces punishment on them. Nations that produced or had skilled educated people have now sold off/outsourced/off-shored the jobs and careers so the business elites make more profits, hence the 1% vs the 99%, and yet the 99% still bow down to the business elites.

    Communism, Socialism, Capitalism and Extreme Capitalism as we have now–all of these have failed as all give power to a small minority set of people, be it government, military or the business elites. Only we, the people, can change and repair the damage, but first we have to get smarter!

  3. […] Youth Speaking Out « iMFdirect – The IMF Blog […]

  4. Javed Mir March 7, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    Generation Y is an asset for the future. They need proper guidance. Because of information technology, the human society has come much closer and as such understanding of the problems has become much easier. The problem is not only production but also of distribution.

    Despite huge growth in the human population, Mother Nature is still generous. Almost 3/4th of the Universe consists of water and thousands of acres of land are lying uncultivated. What is needed is proper management of resources: natural, financial, and human. There should be a beneficial mix of nationalization and privatisation to have improved productivity and fair distribution of generated wealth.

  5. […] links: The best I can do for today’s youth is quit – FT, Lucy Kellaway Youth Speaking Out – […]

  6. GS RADJOU March 10, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Dear Sir,

    You are right, but there is also another class you did not mention because I think it is too narrow — those born in 58-60 who are neither in the 30 years golden age generation nor the X generation to benefit from the wealth or the income.

    From my viewpoint, this has led to the culture of early retirement for people unable to work fully during their lifetime; instead, they should leave the employment market early to allow the new generation to find a work.

    Often, the young generation does not have sufficient income as you mention, but it should not matter because they are often eligible for safety nets and social benefits that start earlier in life — while the 58-60 generation was ignored for these social benefits.

    For example, today one can see the two generations sitting at the same table — generation X and the 58-60 generation, with both having the same social allocations. You might say, what is unfair about that? Perhaps nothing, except that people should not be so proud of our economies and the “rules of the game” of economies. Perhaps, there is a need for more reforms that take into account more the needs of generations X, Y, Z …T or whatsoever, but people should value experience, professionalism, and education. A person’s life and experience is an investment either for the young or the old.

    Your sincerely,


  7. Per Kurowski March 11, 2012 at 3:39 am

    @GS RADJOU “Often, the young generation does not have sufficient income… but it should not matter because they are often eligible for safety nets and social benefits that start earlier in life”

    Would that be the new brave world´s new state-financed leisure class? If so, will they be taught how to live their lives in a non-disruptive way?

    Perhaps our universities should offer master degrees in the art of being unemployed for life? Loads of video games, or do we have to call upon Professor Jane Austen to lecture on subjects such as: “I never in my life saw a man more intent on being agreeable than Mr. Elton. It is downright labour to him where ladies are concerned”?

    May I offer you my ramblings on “Young unemployed… forever?”

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