Young people in Romania – a collective portrait

young people in romania – a collective portrait A recent survey conducted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Romania puts the spotlight on young people.

A recent sociological survey conducted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Romania puts the spotlight on an age category of which people talk a lot but know little, namely young people. The survey conducted in 2018 reveals the attitude, outlook and self-perception of the Romanians aged between 14 and 29 on such issues as family, education, lifestyle, religion and democracy. They have been compared with young people from other European countries, EU and non-EU members.

All economic and social indicators referring to young people in Romania are looking very bad, says Gabriel Badescu, one of the authors of the survey together with Daniel Sandu, Daniela Angi and Carmen Greab. Some of these indicators must be applied in a broader European context, though. For example, more than half of Romanian respondents agree that democracy is a good form of government but 23% believe that under some circumstances, dictatorship could be a better form of government than democracy. In comparison with the other nine countries in south-eastern Europe included in the survey, democracy enjoys the lowest level of support in Romania, notwithstanding the authoritarian tendencies visible in all European countries.

Worth noting is that generational change does by itself bring along better, more democracy-loving pro- citizens, says Gabriel Badescu:

"This decline in people's attachment to democracy is not uniformly spread throughout all age categories. In fact, it very much depends on the respondent's age. When we refer to the quality of democracy, we should know that young people are a vulnerable and problematic category. Problematic because according to studies, once certain attitudes are imprinted at an early age, it is extremely difficult to change them later; they remain engrained and perpetuate themselves."

Besides mentalities, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation's study also looked at the level of support for minorities in Romania and the other nine countries. Gabriel Badescu tells us what the findings are:

"Support for minority rights is low among young people. Romania has the lowest levels of support in the case of several categories of minorities out of all the 10 countries. It also has the second lowest level of support for the ethnic minorities and the third lowest when it comes to the rights of the poor."

The study has also revealed a disparity between Romania's regions and between its rural and urban areas. The disparity between young people in the urban areas and those in rural areas reflects a disadvantage for the latter. According to other surveys, in 2017, the poverty risk rate in the rural area stood at 37.3%, which is six times higher than in urban areas. The survey on young people carried out in 2018 reveals that 23% of young people in rural regions fall in a category known as NEET, which stands "not in employment, education or training", which means they don't pursue any kind of formal education and they are not employed either. This figure is twice as high in the rural areas than in urban areas, a disparity which is not found in other EU countries.

The economic situation is also used by the authors of the survey to explain the rather high percentage of young people who want to emigrate. Unlike 2014, when a similar survey was conducted and when 60% of young people aged between 14 and 29 intended to emigrate, in 2018, this figure dropped to almost 30%. The sociologist Daniel Sandu points out that this figure reflects wishes and not necessarily specific plans to leave the country:

"It's not essential how intense this wish is when trying to establish whether they will, indeed, leave the country. The desire to leave can rather be interpreted as an answer to the question: 'how do you assess your opportunities for self-development in your own country?'. If the economic situation in your own country is difficult, as it was in 2014, and if there are fewer opportunities, then the tendency occurs to project your departure or to wish to leave the country."

As to who wants to leave country most strongly, the survey reveals some surprising answers, says sociologist Daniel Sandu:

"If we look more closely we notice a bimodal distribution of migration intentions. There are two very different groups, at opposite ends. One group is made up of young people coming from advantaged families who plan to study abroad. The group is made up of young people from families who have access to goods, but not as a result of their families' affluence but because different members of their families are already abroad. They send money back to the country and give these young people access to goods, but they don't provide them with stability and real prospects for the future in this country."

The perception of the future is in fact founded on how the present is perceived. In this respect, the survey confirms other statistics. The representative of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Romania, Victoria Stoiciu, explains:

"As it transpires from our survey and other studies, young people are clearly an underprivileged category, first and foremost economically. If we look at the poverty rate among young people, I'm referring to those aged between 14 and 25, we will see it is very high, higher than among other age categories. We usually refer to the elderly or the retired when we draw such comparisons. It doesn't mean that the elderly don't have problems, but that the economic situation of young people is much worse. What's more, young people are under-represented politically."
Publicat: 2019-04-10 13:35:00
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