Young people often feel discriminated against in the workplace and society, finding it harder to enter the workforce and obtain social support, according to a national study.
According to the 2012 Social Report, which comes out every four years, the Swiss government provides 45 per cent of its social support funds to the elderly, a record amount in Europe. Just five per cent of social support goes to young people.
Members of younger generations also report having trouble entering the workplace and gathering experience. Many young men and especially women younger than 30 are often only offered temporary work and told they lack experience, according to the study.
The period before retirement is also a difficult transition time for older generations, according to Dr. Peter Farago, one of the study authors from the Swiss Foundation for Research in Social Sciences (FORS).
Twenty per cent of men and 60 per cent of women between the ages of 55 and 64 only work part time, and people of that generation tend to remain unemployed longer than young people.
“The beginning and the end of a career are the critical phases,” Farago told swissinfo.ch. “It’s a fact that some people have trouble switching jobs when they are older than 45, and the older they get, the harder it is.
For a while, companies really tried to allow people to retire early when they could afford it, which led to a lack of know-how among employees. Now they’ve realized that and it’s done less and less, but it probably also has to do with the costs (of early retirement).”
Social relationships between young and old are very strong within families, but in society in general, young and old people mix much less frequently – according to the report, close to 60 per cent of young adults don’t know anyone older than 70.
Perhaps as a result of this generational distance, older people tend to be anxious about the role of youth in society, with 45 per cent of seniors reporting that they are afraid young people are endangering the country’s public safety and order.
Farago says that although there are many exceptions where young and old people get along just fine, generational conflicts and misunderstandings tend to play themselves out among larger groups of people in public spaces.
“It’s a conflict we see in open society, it starts with the crowded public transport and continues in the parks, the beaches, on the streets,” he says.