Employment figures are improving in Spain, youth unemployment, although still the highest in the EU, is falling at a nice pace. Yet Spanish young people are having great difficulty living independently and not with parents.
This is according to research by Spanish NGO Ayuda and Acción. The figures match official Eurostat data: 64% of young people aged 18-34 in Spain still live with their parents. Without action, this percentage will further increase by 2030.
Based on current trends, the report, on which 12 experts in different fields collaborated, analyses possible future scenarios for young people. And especially on the themes of employment, inequality or access to housing. Ayuda and Acción’s main conclusion is that income inequality remains the main cause of the difficulties most young people face. So much so that “finding a job is now no guarantee for young people to escape poverty or access basic goods such as housing”.
The study was published during the final stage of negotiations for the final approval of the Housing Act. This law has been delayed for a long time. The talks stalled because the PSOE on one side and Unidas Podemos, ERC and EH Bildu on the other failed to close the final loopholes. And especially when it comes to the regulation of rents. The survey indicates that more young people are living in rented accommodation and fewer own their own homes. The number of young people who could afford to buy a house has fallen from 60% in 2006 to 30% now. The price of owning a home has skyrocketed.
Fluctuations in the rental market
And now that most young people are renting, they are more affected by the fluctuations in the rental market, which is “even more sensitive to the economic situation” than that of buying and selling. The relationship between the price of housing and the economic situation now makes things difficult for young people. During periods of growth, job opportunities improve, but housing prices also rise. And conversely, when housing is more affordable, it is harder to find work,’ warns the Ayuda and Acción report. The percentage of young people living with their parents will rise by almost 1% by 2030 if no measures are taken.
Spanish youth at home longer than average in Europe
And this is a serious problem, as young people in Spain leave home “almost three and a half years later” than the EU average. The average age is 29 years and nine months, according to official Eurostat data. ‘The economic recovery has not reduced the percentage of young people (aged between 25 and 34) living with their parents. Even though the economy, young people’s employability and educational attainment have improved, this problem is only getting worse. It’ represents a change in perspective from the thinking of recent years. Back then, youth unemployment and job insecurity were considered the main obstacles for young people to leave home,’ the report explains.
The NGO therefore argues that ‘access to work is no longer a factor that guarantees independence’. It is therefore not only a priority to ‘ease the burden of housing costs for young families’. It also wants to ‘increase and improve the supply of housing, especially public rented housing’. ‘A new political framework is needed to solve the structural housing problem. The new Housing Act is essential in this regard. Targeted measures could lead to as many as 8% more of 25- to 34-year-olds leaving home. But, if current trends continue, the percentage of people in this age group who cannot leave their parents’ homes will rise from 46.8% today to 47.5% in 2030. However, if the government invests money and policies, this percentage could be reduced to 38% in seven years.