Albania, insecurity among young people significantly reduces marriages

2023-05-17 21:21:36, Sociale CNA

Albania, insecurity among young people significantly reduces marriages

The rapid socio-economic developments in Albania, during the last years, have brought great insecurities in the ranks of young people. Based on official statistics, sociologists say that the significant decrease in the number of marriages and the increase in the number of divorces put the Albanian family in crisis. According to them, high unemployment among young people with nearly 20%, emigration, and informality in the economy are the main reasons why they postpone the age of marriage.

Researchers say that the consequences of this phenomenon will lead to the aging of the population and the deepening of the negative ratio between contributors and beneficiaries in the social insurance scheme. Officials say they have taken measures to increase the employability and security of young people in the labor market, but their effect for experts is still low.

In Albania, during the last few years, a worrying phenomenon has been observed for researchers of social developments, that of the decline in the number of marriages. In the last decade, they have shrunk by about 18% compared to the previous one, and the same in 2021, or by about 4 thousand less, compared to the average of the last 5 years.

Researchers believe that young people today postpone the age of marriage conditioned by several factors, related to career, professional achievements, work and financial income. According to INSTAT statistics, today unemployment among young people aged 15 to 29 is over 20%, or 10 percentage points higher than the level of unemployment as a whole. These indicators, according to experts, reduce the possibilities for creating a family and raising children. The Voice of America asked some citizens, including young people, about this phenomenon. They singled out limited economic opportunities as the main obstacle to establishing marriage.

"It should be seen with the development of society. Now everyone will be independent, marriage is an obligation. People have a lot of insecurity," said Gresilda Merkaj, a student, for the Voice of America.

"The obstacle is the weak economy, betrayal. Young people no longer believe in marriage, love, trust has been broken. There are many factors that prevent today's young people from being convinced about marriage" - Anxela Kollozaj, a student, told Voice of America.

"They don't get married because they are not safe, they don't have a house, they don't have a job and they don't have security for life" - continued Xhevat Hysenaj, a citizen from Tirana.

Sociologists note that on the eve of a marriage, several factors come into play, the main ones being work, income and housing.

"The question we ask is: Is it possible that with the average income we can guarantee the possibility of having a roof over our heads? A contractual security is required. Is it possible for us today to guarantee this contractual security? First we need to provide the most basic needs and security needs. The need for security is translated into the need for a secure work contract and the need for a secure shelter," said Ela Tollkuçi, social psychologist, for the Voice of America.

"In fact, we have noticed that there is a very large imbalance between the income that young people have today and what they want to create in their future. And this sometimes makes them feel unfulfilled" - Arjana Muçaj, Head of the Department of Pedagogy - Psychology at the University of Tirana, told Voice of America.

One of the data that makes the situation of young people in the country more difficult, is related to the fact that according to INSTAT, 26.1% of young people in the age group of 15-29 years are neither at work nor at school. The authorities say they have taken measures to reduce unemployment and promote vocational training among young people, through several special initiatives.

According to them, a coding program has started to be implemented, which foresees the subsidy from the budget of courses for young people in this field, as well as the provision of free courses for professions in demand in the market such as hospitality, tourism, graphic design and digital skills. Support is also offered for starting new businesses, and 50% of beneficiaries, officials say, are currently young. Also, businesses that employ unemployed young people are subsidized by half of their salary. According to them, a special focus this year will be a program that is also applied in EU countries, that of the youth guarantee.

"The youth guarantee envisages the provision of an employment opportunity within 4 months, training or education for every young person who is outside the labor market, i.e. unemployed, is not in a vocational training or is not in an education process" - he told the Voice of America, Klevis Hysa, Director of the National Employment and Training Agency.

The largest municipality in the country, that of Tirana, has been offering housing facilities for young couples aged 25 to 35 for 5 years. Local authorities in the capital offer them soft loans, subsidizing loan interests in the purchase of an apartment. So far, more than 1,000 new couples have benefited, officials say.

"Young couples are also a priority in new housing programs, such as rent bonus and social housing, although in reality in some programs we aim for a good part to be people who are without economic income or from groups of other social issues, but still young couples are a priority" - Anisa Subashi, director of the Social Service in the Municipality of Tirana, said to the Voice of America.

But sociologists say that the cost of living is increasing every day, relative to the opportunities. The government has announced an increase in the average salary to around 900 euros or by 67%, it has increased the minimum wage, the salary in some public sectors, but unemployment statistics among young people with 20% fade these initiatives. Experts link the declining number of marriages to insecurity in the labor market as well as high emigration of young people. According to INSTAT data, about 110 thousand or nearly 64% of the citizens who immigrated in the years 2011-2019 are young people aged 15-34. Researchers say that the consequences in society will be great, if young people decide to marry less and less, postpone the age of marriage, or leave the country.

"Every society is maintained with the contributions of every age group. We will see that we have young people who remain single, do not create families. They will turn into old people, who will be a burden to society. There will be costs for any government to come. The number of contributors will decrease and the population will age. If I don't give birth to offspring, who will contribute?" - continued Arjana Muçaj, Head of the Department of Pedagogy - Psychology at the University of Tirana.

But sociologists note that today there is a new approach to the institution of marriage. Trust in it has decreased and young people prefer to live together.

"Today, a couple does not necessarily have to get married to live together and to give birth to offspring. Today it is preferable to live together, because values, traditions and beliefs have changed" - continued Ela Tollkuçi, social psychologist .

And yet, in the ranks of young people, beyond the hesitations and insecurities to create a marriage, there is still faith in this institution.

"I support marriage, despite the fact that it may come with some disadvantages, but without disadvantages it does not work, without creating a family it does not work in life. We have to think for society to continue. Regular families form more regular children" - continued Gresilda Merkaj, student.

The researchers note with concern that the decrease in the number of marriages is accompanied by the increase in divorces, indicators that, according to them, put the Albanian family in crisis. The rapid socio-economic developments in the country, emigration, unemployment, informality in the economy, have brought many insecurities, they say, so marriage is not in the plans of young people. The costs of this crisis have begun to be felt with the decrease in the number of births in the country, the increase in the average age of the population, i.e. the aging of the population, the lack of labor force and the skewed ratio between contributors and beneficiaries in the social insurance scheme. These factors harm society in the long term, the researchers argue, so the measures taken to prevent them have a low impact on society./ VOA

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