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European and South Korean Unemployed Youth in Times of Crisis : An Analysis of Youth Unemployment Related Problems and Policies for the Young

  • The Journal of Northeast Asia Research
  • Abbr : NEA
  • 2016, 31(1), pp.205-234
  • DOI : 10.18013/jnar.2016.31.1.008
  • Publisher : The Institute for Northeast Asia Research
  • Research Area : Social Science > Political Science > International Politics > International Relations / Cooperation

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ABSTRACT

This paper explores the extent, the causes and the repercussions of youth unemployment in Europe and also South Korea. Youth unemployment is one of the most pressing economic and social problems confronting the EU countries, whose labour markets and economies have been significantly weakened since the onset of the global financial crisis. Southern Europe in particular, but also other regions, has been severely affected by very high youth unemployment rates inducing enormous economic and social costs. Since the Asian economic crisis and the subsequent IMF bailout package, young South Koreans have been confronted with a range of labour market changes that have steadily increased youth unemployment. Commonly first to be fired and last to be hired, young Europeans as well as their South Korean counterparts have become marginalized in the job market and disorientation has created a ‘lost generation’ in Europe and a ‘give-up generation’ in South Korea. Secondly, the paper aims to analyse the political measures taken by European institutions, European states and in South Korea to tackle the youth unemployment crisis. European-wide and EU Commission policies of labour market regulations reveals that although some useful youth-related projects have been introduced in the past decades, many current policies aimed at reducing regional and national unemployment have insufficiently recognised the need for policies entirely devoted to youth unemployment. Instead ‘flexicurity’ has become the focus at the expense of issues such as quality of work, job security and social security. South Korean political responses to the youth unemployment crisis under the ‘Bridge Plan 2020’ have focused on the wage peak system, increasing job training, reducing work hours as well as improving employment relationships. Critics demonstrate an overall lack of welfare policies for the unemployed youth and a weak willingness of large companies to increase their youth employment ratio. All countries in this paper need to enhance their efforts to target the youth in their political decisions.

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