Young Europeans don’t work in part because they don’t have to: thanks to more generous student aid, they’re less likely to have to work while in school. But there’s also a lack of job opportunities. And the elderly retire earlier, largely thanks to generous benefits.
The paper krugman cites has a lot more, one eg:
The French riots of the banlieue in 2005 and riots in Southern Italy in January, 2010, remind us that many European youth are marginalized from contact with the market economy. … American youth are expected both by their parents and by colleges to work part‐time during the school year and full‐time during the summer. They adopt early a culture of work rather than idleness, and this continues after graduation from college. In contrast, judging from the low employment to population ratios for Europeans aged 15‐29, much of the time in this European age group is wasted, especially when we recognize the larger share of American youth compared to European youth going to college and hence removed from the employment‐population ratio.
The paper also says that the US also has more younger people as a percent of the total population than Europe.
The paper correctly points out, after tax wages in Europe are so low and benefits are so high that people take lots of time off.
Europe is essentially paying its youth not to work and is feeling some of the consequences.
Source: The New York Times