NEWS

Gilded youth stuck in the nest

A certain proportion of the young unemployed are gilded youth. Most of them have degrees from abroad. They live with their parents, or in apartments paid for by their parents. And they turn their noses up at any job that does not meet their high standards. It’s not a purely Greek phenomenon, and it has attracted the attention of psychologists and sociologists in the West. «In Greece the problem is even worse, given that in Western Europe and the US the independence of children is part of family tradition,» said psychology Maria Lassithiotaki. She described it as a widespread phenomenon among educated, affluent, middle-class families, especially with parents over 50. «These are not the farmers of the 1960s who sweated blood to get their children an education. They’ve raised their offspring with all the consumer comforts. The outcome is a generation of spoilt children who are constantly bored and depressed, trapped by fear and artificial needs. They are passive children who cannot fight for anything.» «My parents don’t pressure me to work, sometimes my mother says I have to think about what I’m going to do with my life. My father doesn’t mind. He just wants me not to be anxious and not to be hasty,» said Despina, 26. She has a degree in architecture and lives with her parents. She has a car and credit cards that her father gladly pays. «I’ve thought about getting into painting and set design too. I’m not really interested in architecture. I wouldn’t like to spend my life in an office carrying someone else’s drawings. I want to do something more artistic.» Yiannis, 27, went straight to Barcelona after senior high school to study marketing and advertising. For the past four years he has been back in Athens where he lives in a roomy penthouse at his parents’ expense. He has lots of ideas but hasn’t found work. «There was less work after 2004. Firms are putting people off,» he said. Asked how he manages, he said, «Luckily I get financial support from my family.» Told he was a classic example of «gilded youth,» he agreed: «But I can’t do just any job, I’d feel a failure. Wouldn’t that be wasting my studies in Spain?» «I don’t feel great without a normal job, but I can’t say I feel that bad either. I have a lot of time for myself and my friends. Isn’t that what it’s about, having a good time?» asked Natalia, 29, who works occasionally at a trendy but little-known radio station. She studied photography at a private college, listens to music and rarely gets paid for her work. She lives with a college friend in Neos Cosmos and sends all the bills to her parents in Thessaloniki. They don’t put pressure on her, she said, but they do worry. Sometimes she worries too. «There are times when I tell myself I need to get a permanent job and keep radio as a hobby. But it isn’t easy. There aren’t many jobs in photography. What can I do? Hand out flyers in the street?»