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Saturday, 9 October 2010

STEREOTYPE WIN, NATION FAIL

It is common knowledge that every Greek man lives with his parents until well into his thirties, in a mutually frustrating melange that is the result of a rubbish labour market and a benign but slightly misguided culture of parenting.

If, like me, you suspected that this was a bit of a stereotype, you were wrong. Eurostat has just published its figures for young people staying with their parents and boy they are bad. Apparently, 56% of 25-34 yr old men in Greece live with mum and dad - the worst figure in Europe save Bulgaria. You know it can't just be culture because, among Cypriot men in the same age group, "only" 42% live with their folks. The figures for socialist paradise states (always a useful comparison) are all under 8%.

Greek women aren't doing much better either - 36% of 25-35 yr olds live with their folks, a percentage topped only by Slovenia and Slovakia.

So far, so Troktiko - but turn over one page and you'll find the figures about people living in 'consensual unions', i.e. people shacked up together, whether they be married or not. Here young Greek men score the lowest in Europe - a mere 20%. The Scandinavians, on the other hand, are among the most likely people to be living with a partner. Again, it can't be all down to culture: apparently Greek immigrants to the States are significantly more likely to cohabit than those from other ethnic backgrounds.

The plot thickens. Why do Greek men tend to live with their folks rather than with partners and spouses? It can't be that we're not that into nookie, because the evidence says we are - more so than any nation in this study except (of course) the Brazilians, who are not, however as versatile in terms of the variety of sexual acts performed. In fact, you can probably quit reading now and just look at the Durex-sponsored global study about sex. I know you want to.


One issue may well be money. Not only is marriage a very expensive proposition but cohabitation was not acknowledged by law until not too long ago. More importantly, there is evidence that young people's tendency for cohabitation increases a little as young people's job insecurity rises but decreases a lot more as their parents' job insecurity rises. Because employment law tends to reduce older workers' job insecurity at the expense of increasing young people's job insecurity one of its effects is to reduce young people's emancipation rates. Could it be that Greece is paying yet another premium for having the worlds' 147st most efficient labour market ?

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