Youth optimism can be hard to find in Japan, wherein millennials are the gloomiest among world’s biggest economies. While a majority of youth in its trading partners see bright career prospects and successful future, fewer than 40 percent of Japanese do. This makes them the world’s most pessimistic country among the 18 countries surveyed by Manpower Group. The millennials in Japan seem to be even more downbeat that Greeks, who have suffered the consequences of Great Depression like conditions and political upheaval in the recent past.
In its efforts to eradicate Japan’s deflationary mindset, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe supports engineering an economic revival with Young Japanese far from being bullish. This weighing on the economy already poses challenges for the future. In light of the ageing population at a much faster pace in Japan, the youth are face with a future paying to care for one of the world’s most rapidly growing elderly populations.
More than a third of them are likely headed for a series of lower-paying dead-end jobs on the nation’s dual labour market, also the public debt burden ranks among the world’s biggest. Sceptical about if the nation’s pension system would take care of them, the country’s 20-something are already worried about retirement and struggling to save for the future.
Low and stagnant is also forcing many to delay and forego marriage, home-buying and other personal investments. About 37 percent expect to work until they die, the survey found.
Randall Jones, head of the Japan-Korea desk at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development told Bloomberg, “Japanese seem to have a fixation on working for large companies or the government. Changing such attitudes is a key challenge for Japan, which ranks low in entrepreneurship globally. This is important to drive innovation and productivity growth needed to sustain rising living standards as the population shrinks. The country has abundant patents and piles of idle corporate cash, but it lacks enough entrepreneurs to make full use of them.”
Much of the source to this struggle is Japan’s dual labour market that keeps wages down while raising job insecurity. It also limits opportunities for employees to develop skills, which hurts the economy in the long-term.
Singapore millennials follow behind Japan, Greece and Italy as being one of the world’s economies with gloomiest millenials. Around half of Singapore millennials surveyed felt pessimistic about their immediate career prospects — they were not confident that if they lost their main source of income tomorrow, they could find equally good or better work within three months.
In comparison, at least six in 10 millenials in countries such as China, Mexico, Australia, Norway and India, were confident of their career prospects. The survey also found that 14 percent of Singapore millennials believed they would have to work until the day they die, compared to 12 percent globally. Singapore is joined fourth on this list, behind Japan (37 percent), China (18 percent) and Greece (15 percent).
However, Singapore millennials worked more hours in a week, more than the Japanese with 48 hours per week, coming in second alongside Mexico, China and Switzerland. Indian millennials topped this list by working an average of 50 hours a week, while the Japanese worked 46 hours.
Young Japanese are responding in ways that are dragging on the economy. At a time when domestic consumption has stalled, their savings rate is on the rise, with those 25-34 years old saving a larger share of their earnings than any other age group in 2015, UBS said in a recent report, citing government data.