chapter  8
22 Pages

Too poor to leave the nest?

The Greek family as a safety net for young adults before and during the crisis
WithRebekka Christopoulou, Maria Pantalidou

The Greek “great recession” has been widely documented as the most severe and prolonged recession in the advanced world during peacetime. Over 2009–2015, the Greek economy lost all growth since its Eurozone entry, with GDP per capita contracting to levels not seen since 1999 and unemployment rates climaxing at 27%. Not surprisingly, youths were among those affected particularly hard. Youth unemployment peaked at shocking rates in 2013, exceeding 58% among 15–24-year-olds, 43% among 25–29 year-olds, and 30% among 30–34 year-olds (Eurostat LFS-series). This disproportionate deterioration in labour market outcomes and the consequent economic distress put youths at an increased risk of depression and suicide (Drydakis 2015; Economou et al. 2013, 2016), while, among those who kept their sanity, many fled the country to look for work elsewhere, with the trend including mostly the high-skilled (see, for example, Ifanti et al. 2014 for the brain drain of young Greek doctors). The majority did remain, however, and managed to pull through even though there were hardly any public safety nets on which they could rely (Matsaganis 2013, 2015). In this chapter, we study the only safety net that has been consistently available to struggling youths both before and during the recent crisis: the Greek family. Our main research question is whether Greek families have increased their support to their young members during the crisis and, if so, to what degree and in what form. In investigating this question, we also provide evidence on the demographic, economic, and cultural factors that instigate intergenerational dependency.