High Levels of Youth Unemployment – and Runaway Inequality – Cause Riots

Recipe For Disaster

We’ve known for 1,900 years that runaway inequality destroys societies.

The great American historian Will Grant wrote in 1969:

In progressive societies the concentration[of wealth] may reach a point where the strength of number in the many poor rivals the strength of ability in the few rich; then the unstable equilibrium generates a critical situation, which history has diversely met by legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution distributing poverty.

A 2011 study this month by economists Hans-Joachim Voth and Jacopo Ponticelli shows that – from 1919 to the present – austerity has increased the risk of violence and instability.

Peter Turchin (professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and an adjunct professor in the departments of Anthropology and Mathematics at the University of Connecticut) pointed out in 2013 that inequality is cyclical, skyrocketing until – periodically – revolution forces concessions from those who have grabbed all the wealth.

Indeed, leading institutions and economists all over world warn that runaway inequality could cause violence and unrest.

For those who work for a living, the level of inequality in America today is arguably the highest in world history.

Ron Paul said today:

We know about the militarization of the police and their overreaction in the drug war.

We also noticed that some people who are on the receiving end of excessive police force are overreacting too and people can get pretty nervous about that as well, but the big, overwhelming thing that drives the problem in the inner city is back to economics.

If we had a thriving economy, the problems in the inner city wouldn’t be there, but when you have an entitlement system, Keynesian economics and the Federal Reserve fixing it up for the rich to get richer and the remaining part of the middle class, the upper middle class that might be remaining, the rich even go after them to tax them to try and keep this [system] going.

A high level of youth unemployment is also a leading cause of riots. As we noted in 2011:

Youth unemployment is rising globally. As the New York Times reported last August:

Youth unemployment across the world has climbed to a new high and is likely to climb further this year, a United Nations agency said Thursday, while warning of a “lost generation” as more young people give up the search for work. The agency, the International Labor Organization, said in a report that of some 620 million young people ages 15 to 24 in the work force, about 81 million were unemployed at the end of 2009 — the highest level in two decades of record-keeping by the organization, which is based in Geneva.

The youth unemployment rate increased to 13 percent in 2009 from 11.9 percent in the last assessment in 2007.

“There’s never been an increase of this magnitude — both in terms of the rate and the level — since we’ve been tracking the data,” said Steven Kapsos, an economist with the organization. The agency forecast that the global youth unemployment rate would continue to increase through 2010, to 13.1 percent, as the effects of the economic downturn continue.  ***

Indeed, as I have previously pointed out, youth unemployment is also very high in the U.S. And when those who have given up looking for work and those who are underemployed are taken into account (i.e. using the U-6 measure of unemployment), it is clear that the youth of much of the world are suffering Depression-level unemployment.

Postscript: As Ron Paul notes, there are other reasons for the riots in Baltimore. But high levels of youth unemployment and inequality are big factors.

This entry was posted in Business / Economics, Politics / World News. Bookmark the permalink.