“A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune’s inequality exhibits under the sun.” “You take my life when you take the means whereby I live.” These observations by Thomas Carlyle and William Shakespeare respectively reflect what youth unemployment means to me. As I reflect on youth unemployment, several thoughts and examples cross my mind. Here are a few: Almost every week one reads in newspapers in India, my country, about farmers committing suicide due to a high level of indebtedness on the one hand and lack of farm unemployment on the other. Many are in their youth. There was a very touching story about a young man who lost his job due to the global meltdown. He did not have the heart to tell his family, friends or neighbors about the sad development. He would therefore, leave his home everyday at the normal time in the morning with his brief case, spend the day in a garden and return in the evening. There is an increasing number of young patients visiting psychiatrists for clinical depression caused by unemployment. In recent times, many college graduates have volunteered to work absolutely free in private companies. Their objective, in the absence of a paying job, is to get some experience and add to their resumes so that when the opportunities of paying jobs arise, they have a better chance than others.
Youth unemployment is an area of very serious concern to South Asia, India (which is the largest country in South Asia) and to me and my generation. The impact of unemployment among the young is described here in the first part of this essay. GDP Impact: It is an established economic reality that the size of the workforce directly impacts a country’s GDP. Not only does the work force produce manufactured goods or services or agricultural produce in direct proportion, but also brings in its wake increasing purchasing power, which in turn, fuels economic growth. Thus unemployment contributes to a reduction in the potential which exists in spurring a country’s GDP. Psychological effect: George Bernard Shaw wrote, “A man who has no office to go to- I don’t care who he is- is a trial of which you can have no conception.” Young men and women, who have put in a decade or two in schools and colleges, have dreams and aspirations. These are dreams of securing satisfying jobs following their years of struggle, meeting basic necessities of life (food, clothing, shelter and healthcare), graduating to a life of comfort and dignity and, eventually, enjoying the luxuries of life.
The trauma of seeing their dreams shattered week after week, month after month, can and does lead to deep psychological scars that are very difficult to face at such a young age. These can impact any individual’s self esteem and can lead to clinical depression, as “mind unemployed is mind un-joyed”. (Christian Nevell Bovee) Family Support: In a country like India, where the retirement age is low and there is no social security net, very often a family depends on a son or a daughter graduating from school or college to take up employment in order to support the entire family. When that does not happen, the financial woes are unimaginably sorrowful. Social impact: With growing youth unemployment, the divide between the rich and the poor grows, resulting in social tensions which could affect the entire fabric of a community, province or community. Law and order: It has been established that educated unemployed are likely to take to crime- blue collar or white collar crimes- more easily than others. This arises out of the theory that they would have, at some stage of their careers, seen good life, even from a distance, and formed their dreams based thereon. When they fail to see these dreams turn into reality, some turn to crime. Social Ills: Youth unemployment also leads to other social ills such as addiction to alcoholism, tobacco and harmful drugs, battering of wives and children....