The Mediterranean is a miserable place, with a recent poll confirming that fact for the rest of the world. A survey by the Pew Research Center shed light on exactly how miserable the ancient region is, with Greece the flag bearer for the economic and social misery these countries are experiencing. Among 39 countries polled, the Mediterranean countries ranked near the top in all of the questions asked.
In Greece, 99 percent of those polled said that their country’s economic situation was either ‘somewhat bad’ or ‘very bad’, with another 97 percent being dissatisfied with how things were progressing. A huge majority — 85 percent — reported that their personal finances were in terrible shape, and more than half still expected things to get worse in the next year. However, France edged Greece in one category — with 90 percent predicting their children would be worse off than they were.
The results are hardly surprising considering the economic pictures in these countries, and in the case of France, the issue of pensions continues to weigh heavily on the public.
Pension reform is a touchy subject in France, where former President Nicolas Sarkozy faced mass street protests when he raised the retirement age to 62 from 60. Current President Francois Hollande will appear forced to act on the matter as the EU has urged his country to fix the system in exchange for an additional two years to shore up its budget. French pensions will generate a 20-billion euro deficit by 2020 if the problem isn’t corrected. Youth unemployment is also high in France, with 23 percent of young people out of work.
No country faces as great a threat from youth unemployment as Greece, though. Almost 64 percent of young people are out of work in Greece, and as this problem continues to grow there and throughout Europe at large, the ramifications are grim, with future productivity being lost. Long-term unemployment for young people will lead to a lack of skilled labor, a lack of entrepreneurs, and a lack of spending by future generations.
The issue has attracted attention from the EU Commission. On Tuesday, Italy’s labor minister Enrico Giovanni said: “We now have to rescue an entire generation of people who are scared. We have the best ever educated generation in this continent, and we are putting them on hold.”
Italy is coping with a 34-percent youth unemployment rate. A majority of Italians polled by Pew also found that parents expected their kids to be worse off as economic conditions in the euro zone continue to sour.
Unsurprisingly, optimism from the survey was most prevalent from emerging markets and quickly developing economies. Countries such as China, Brazil, and even Kenya are optimistic for the future based on current growth rates, with their people experiencing rising incomes and increased standards of living.
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