Negotiate Overcoming early job-insecurity in Europe

Unemployment, drugs and attitudes among European youth

Young man back turned sitting on wall with harbour in background. Photo: colourbox
by Ischi Graus

A new paper shows that young people’s drug abuse is connected to the opportunities afforded in the local labour market.

The paper is written by S. Ayllón and N. N. Ferreira-Batista, University of Girona, and is forthcoming in the Journal of Health Economics.

Based on the analysis of young people (aged 15-24 years) in 28 European countries, the paper looks at the extent to which changes in the labour market translate into changes in the patterns of drug consumption and attitudes towards drugs.

According to the young people interviewed in the Eurobarometer surveys, during a severe economic crisis when unemployment is high, anti-drug policies should aim at the reduction of poverty and employment instead of focusing their efforts on stricter measures against drug users.

During the recent Great Recession, the consumption of cannabis and ‘new substances’ is found to have increased in parallel with the unemployment rate. While at the same time, more and more young people perceive that access to drugs, especially ecstasy, cocaine and heroin, becomes harder.

On the other hand, young people do not seem to change their opinions when it comes to the health risk of using drugs in association with changes in the state of the labour market.

The paper points out that the effects of the Great Recession are not only limited within the boundaries of the labour market but reach beyond.

In addition, it underlines the relation between the health of both the labour market and that of its young people – as soon as career prospects worsen, special attention should be given to drug consumption – because the effects are not solely economical. Most importantly, young people’s drug abuse is connected to the opportunities afforded in the local labour market.

Here you can read the full version of the paper ‘Unemployment, drugs and attitudes among European youth’ by S. Ayllón (@ayllonsara) and N. N. Ferreira-Batista (@natnfb), University of Girona.

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Ischi Graus
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