Most Spaniards under 30 ‘too poor’ to flee the nest

Only two in every ten Spanish adults under the age of 30 are financially independent, a new study shows.

Most Spaniards under 30 'too poor' to flee the nest
1.8 million young Spaniards between the ages of 16 and 29 who are in work are not capable of fending for themselves financially speaking. Photo: Miguel Pires da Rosa

Spaniards have a reputation for leaving their parents’ nest later than their European counterparts, but the country’s recession is only serving to aggravate the trend even further.

A new study by Spain’s Youth Emancipation Observatory shows that 1.8 million young Spaniards between the ages of 16 and 29 who are in work are not capable of fending for themselves financially speaking.

Low salaries are stopping the vast majority of them from being able to afford to rent, as the report shows their average wages can only cover rental costs in two of Spain’s least wealthy regions: Extremadura and Castile-La Mancha.

Young Spaniards would have to earn a staggering 80 percent more than their average salaries to be able to afford to buy a house (keeping in mind that only 30 percent of their wages should go to paying a mortgage).

In a country where home ownership has long been viewed as a quintessential element of financial and social stability, “young Spaniards are being almost systematically excluded from the property market”.

“Most young people view home ownership as a kind of utopia,” Sheyla Suárez, one of the study’s authors, points out.

However,  Suárez’s research has picked up on a buck in the trend among Spaniards aged 30 to 34.

“Aside from Andalusia, Asturias, the Canaries and Galicia, 70 percent of Spaniards in this age group no longer live with their parents,” she adds.

But young Spaniards in both demographics are often overqualified for their job positions, with 53.9 percent of 16 to 29-year-olds and 56.2 percent of 30 to 34-year-olds carrying out jobs that are below their skillset.

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IN PICS: 16 arrested in Catalan referendum anniversary protests

Police arrested 16 people who took part in overnight protests marking the anniversary of the illegal referendum on Catalan independence that triggered Spain's worst political crisis in decades, a spokesman said Friday.

IN PICS: 16 arrested in Catalan referendum anniversary protests
Photos: AFP

But compared with previous years, the demonstrations on the third anniversary of the October 1, 2017 referendum were sparse, with all mass gatherings banned under coronavirus restrictions.   

Fifteen of the arrests took place in Barcelona while another person was detained in the city of Girona, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) further north, police in the wealthy northeastern region said.

Demonstrators clash with police during the protest on the streets of Barcelona.


This year's anniversary came as Spain battles a second wave of coronavirus cases, chalking up close to 780,000 infections as of Thursday night, the highest number in the European Union, and almost 32,000 deaths.

The 2017 referendum saw police violently cracking down on would-be voters as regional leaders pushed ahead with a ballot that Madrid had declared illegal.

Later that month, Catalan lawmakers narrowly approved a motion to declare an independent republic, sparking an immediate backlash from Madrid.   

The failed independence bid also stoked political divisions within the Catalan separatist movement, which have sharpened in the ensuing three years.    

On Thursday night, several hundred demonstrators gathered outside the Catalan regional government's headquarters in Barcelona, accusing the authorities of not making good on their promise of independence from Spain.

Demonstrators hold a banner reading “Not a step back. Independence”.

Demonstrators hold up Catalan pro-independence flags outside the Generalitat 

Around 300 protesters later continued the protest in the city centre, hurling objects at police vans and burning barricades, an AFP correspondent said.

A man tries to extinguish a burning dustbin during the protest.

Although the regional government is dominated by separatist parties, there are deep divisions within their ruling coalition about what strategy to adopt to achieve independence.

Catalonia is now heading towards an early regional election after its president, Quim Torra, was disqualified from office earlier this week when Spain's Supreme Court upheld a previous conviction for disobedience.

Torra was convicted for refusing to remove a banner with separatist slogans from his government's headquarters in the run-up to the April 2019 general election.

Torra's deputy, Pere Aragones, is to serve as interim regional chief until the election, which is expected to take place in February.