The way we treat young people isn't healthy

There is a broad medical consensus that young people are less affected by COVID19 than older individuals. Still, the young are carrying most of the economic and social costs. Leaving our children unemployed and socially isolated is a decision we should not take lightly. Not only are we hurting the young directly, but we are also hurting ourselves.

A country cannot prosper if the younger generation fails to become an active participant in the economy. Israel's most successful businesses are created by the young. They bring innovation and creativity, break borders, take risks, and succeed.

Instead of helping our children prosper socially and economically, we keep them unemployed, isolated, and hopeless about the future.

They were the first to be fired or sent on leave without pay; they are also the least likely to return to their jobs. Only 20% of the 18-34 years old put on leave in March/April returned to work, and their rate of unemployment stands at around 25%. This 25% doesn't account for the increasing number of young people economically inactive (people not studying, working, or training.) According to CBS, 13.3% of the 18-34 years old were economically inactive in 2018.

A third of Israelis aged 18-34 are now inactive, not accumulating experience nor education, two strong predictors for career development, and lifetime earnings.

Unemployment also affects the mood of the younger generation. Young people need to feel optimistic about their future progresses in life. It is the age at which we choose careers, open businesses, form families, and make babies. In the current situation, we all shy away from making important decisions. As older adults, many of us can afford to rest for a while; we have careers or family or savings. Most of the younger generation has none of those; they were in the process of creating them before the lockdowns. How many new careers, new relationships, weddings, and babies did we miss on account of lockdowns and social isolation?

At least according to a survey from the London School of Economics, two-third of European couples planning to have a child before the lockdowns are postponing or abandoning. It will not be surprising if we see a drop in the number of births in the next 7-9 months in Israel.

The health crisis may be with us for many months or years to come. We need to let our children build the future. The young and healthy are our best soldiers against the economic and social destruction of our country. Let the young save the future of this nation while we protect the older and less healthy citizens.

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