Job slump may spur socialist youth

Joanne Tran

10 September 2020 | Ideas@theCentre

Headlines hit recently that our unemployment rate was at its worst in 19 years, at 7.1% — almost half of that being young people.

Many are entering the labour market for the very first time; all while in the midst of some of the greatest economic challenges the world and this country has faced. This will prove to have long-lasting effects on their political ideologies.

Paola Giuliano, a U.C.L.A. economist, and Antonio Spilimbergo of the International Monetary Fund researched how economic setbacks affect personal ideology. Young workers who have lost their jobs  believing that success in life depends more on luck than effort, preferencing more income redistribution, and are more likely to support left-wing parties.

The already growing sense of disillusionment in capitalism among young people, as seen in research conducted by CIS — combined with experiencing a recession for the first time — might just add fire to that disillusionment.

It makes sense that when presented with grim statistics, young people feel a sense of doom and gloom. Yet it is important to remind them that the devastating economic impacts of this pandemic are not the fault of capitalism but the fault of the government literally shutting down the economy with interventions such as lockdowns. And industries dominated by young people such as hospitality and retail are suffering most.

In order for an economic recovery from this pandemic, this means if anything, we need capitalism more than ever but less government intervention.

Combined with economic reforms to allow a more flexible labour market for young people to get employed, this could be a step towards restoring this generation’s faith in capitalism.

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