The Long-Term Destabilization of Youth, Scarring Effects, and the Future of the Welfare Regime in Post-Trente Glorieuses France

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Author: Louis Chauvel
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"Youth" was once defined as the 15 to 24 year old age group. Today in France one sees a "first youth" (dependent on family and school) and a "second youth" in their twenties sharply divided between a successful elite with top degrees (or family wealth) and a highly marginalized workingclass. Between these extremes, a middle group often experiences frustration and anomie when their university degrees fail to launch the careers they desired. A "third youth" of thirty-somethings has also emerged still dependent on their families and the state. The French corporatist welfare regime, moreover, makes women, immigrants, and the young structural outsiders who must compete harder than Caucasian middle-aged men for jobs. Setbacks early in life in the labor market have long-term consequences (scarring effects) both for individuals and for the birth cohort as a whole. The political consequences are difficult to forecast, but much of the recent political volatility in France can be traced to these generational dynamics and failure to integrate youth since the late 1970s.

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