ANALYSIS-London riots point to much wider risks of youth unrest

Tue Aug 9, 2011 2:03pm GMT

* Economic crisis could drive further youthful discontent

* London riots, "Arab Spring" shows social media power

By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent

LONDON, August 9 (Reuters) - Young, lacking opportunity, angry at the system and organising phenomenally fast over social media, London's rioters show some of the same characteristics as the pro-democracy demonstrators of the "Arab Spring".

But while those in the Middle East have marched in the hope of positive change, Britain's violence has been almost nihilist, focused on looting and a quick burst of the sort of publicity and power inner-city youth feel they have long been denied.

Across the world, the financial crisis may leave a whole generation of young people with opportunities that fall well short of their aspirations, perhaps to the point where they might even abandon hope for the future at all.

In the developed world, the crisis means they almost invariably face fewer and less well paid entry-level jobs at every level, from graduate openings to factory work. Benefits and educational support are also being cut.

In the developing world, economic opportunities might still be rising but expectations may often have risen faster. Now, the downturn leaves them ever more unfulfilled. In ageing economies, the young may also have to fund rising social bills.   Continued...

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