Today, I have just read an interesting article in a Danish newspaper. It is about a study made by a French sociologist, Cécile Van de Velde, and it shows some of the cultural differences between Northern and Southern Europe.

The study describes how young adults live in four European countries; the UK, Denmark, France and Spain. In Denmark the average age for leaving home is 20 years, and only 3 percent of 25 years old still live at home. In Britain the average age is 21 years. In both Denmark and Britain, being independent of your parents is important. If you live at home, you will "get stuck" and not develop yourself personally.

In France, 48 percent of young people aged 18-30 live at home, and in Spain the number is 78,3 percent. The Spainards don't consider it a problem like the Danes and the British would do. In Spain most people will not leave home before they have finished university and have a full-time job and a boyfriend or girlfriend to move in with. Leaving your parents is coupled with "shame" in Spain, in sharp contrast with Northern Europe.

One of the major reasons why Danes leave home early, is that all student above age 18 are entitled to a free grant from the government. Currently, university students receive €700 every month if they are living away, and €350 if they live at home. Consequently, Danish students don't depend on their parents financially, and most students have a part-time job (which French and Spanish students don't have), which also prepares them for the labour market.

Speaking of the labour market, the sociologist praises the Northern European countries for being much more flexible than those of Southern Europe. In Britain and Denmark, the employer can hire and fire as he wants, and furthermore the unemployment rates are low (Denmark: 1.7 pct). The Danes also benefit from a strong social safety net, which has led to the name "flexicurity" for the Danish labour market (which has become a role model for many other European countries) More on that here:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flexicurity

In France and Spain on the other hand, the unemployment rates are high, and it is especially hard for young people to get their first full-time job. The French are very pessimistic about their future, and 47 pct of them not only fear, but think it is possible that they could lose their job and end up being homeless one day. On the other hand, the Danes and the British are much more optimistic and do not fear their future.

So all in all, according to this French study, even though these four countries have been members of the European Union for decades, there is no common "EU youth". There is still an enormous difference in how young people live their lives inside the EU.