Reading & activity: How does public policy affect young people?

Policy making needs to be inclusive of real experiences and opinions of those they are targeting. One’s political views are shaped by major economic and political events happening at their early age. What it means for Millenialls (born from 1981 to 1996) and Generation Z-ers (born after 1996), is that their early formative years were not only shaped by the digital revolution and globalisation, but also by two events that marked their entry into the labour-market: the 2008–09 economic crisis and the migration crisis of 2015–16 [1]. Though it may seem that Millenials are more highly educated, tech-savvy, and mobile than other generations currently in the workforce, research from the International Monetary Fund shows that it was Europe’s youth who suffered most from the post-2008 economic downturn [2]. According to Statista (Germany’s leading market research company) in June 2020 the youth unemployment rate (under 25 years of age) was 16.8% in the EU and 17.0% in the Euro area, up from 14.9% and 15.5%, respectively, from the same period last year. Nearly 5 million young people in the EU, around one fifth of the population under 25, are currently unemployed. Close to 41% of Millennials in Spain are unemployed, 28% in Italy and 27% in Sweden.

While EU and national policies affect all generations, the ways in which they impact new generations, both now and in the long term, are unique and new, and the European Union is working on a new portfolio to address these issues, as explained by the European Parliament’s briefing Next generation or lost generation? [3]. This is why many Millenials and Gen Zers feel disconnected from prevailing public policies and conditions in which they live. If policies are not aligned with the social interest and views of a generation, they could miss the opportunity to improve an entire generation's growth-prospect. 

For a policy to thrive, it needs to ask what those who are affected think about current affairs and how they engage in democratic processes.

Giving citizens a bigger role in policy making by involving them through consultations, deliberation, but also in monitoring and regulating the implementation, leads to policies that reflect and integrate the perspectives of those who are mostly affected by them: citizens. At the heart of such inclusive and open governments are citizens that are informed and actively engaged.


[1] The Atlantic, European Millennials Are Not Like Their American Counterparts. 

[2] Chen, T., Hallaert, J. J., Pitt, A., Qu, H., Queyranne, M., Rhee, A., ... & Yackovlev, I. (2018). Inequality and poverty across generations in the European Union. IMF Staff Papers, SDN/18/01.

[3] European Parliament. Briefing: Next generation or lost generation? Children, young people and the pandemic. 


Check the 10 issues on EU agenda for 2021 from this report by the European Parliamentary Research Service: ten policy areas that are likely to feature prominently on the political agenda of the European Union in 2021, and reflect on the following question:

Do they reflect issues you are interested in?

Last modified: Tuesday, 14 June 2022, 7:25 PM