A rocket. Such that this is how Pedro Sánchez defined the progress of the Spanish economy this week. There is nothing to object to the presidential statement if the statistics, forecasts, tarot cards and reading the grounds in coffee cups corroborate it. Spain is not a party, but it should be based on the enthusiasm that the socialist leader proclaims. Maybe our character has soured because we are so European. Our ancestors celebrated garlic soup and reaching fifty with a few cloves in their mouths with brass band music. On the other hand, we do not stop whining and complaining in front of gigantic trays of sushi. Either way, let’s fasten our seatbelts. Rockets have their dangers, especially when those who crew them live in presidential palaces.

A common problem with rockets is lack of space. And the explanation for why so many people are left without a ticket undoubtedly lies in the limitation of seats. In Spain, the ones we hit with the rocket door in every face are the youth and young adults. That is what the Family Financial Survey that the Bank of Spain has just published with data referring to 2022 says.

Of the many fabrics to be cut from the report, the most outstanding thing is this: Spanish youth – meaning those under 40, who nowadays are young until very late – have it extremely bad from an economic and patrimonial point of view. The engine of equal opportunities to climb socially has exploded, and the possibility of accumulating wealth to safely face the unproductive stages of old age has vanished. Those born in the late Franco era and until the mid-1980s have a place in the rocket. For the members of the generations that come after us, taken as a whole, the trip is not by rocket to the Moon, but by wheelbarrow to the mine.

Half of those born in 1988 (the children are now 34 years old) continue to live at home with their parents. The figure reaches 65.9% of young people between 18 and 34 years old, thirteen points more than in 2008. As can be easily seen, the consequences are far-reaching on other issues of great importance, such as birth rates. From 2019 to 2021, with the pandemic involved, the income of those under 44 years of age fell, while it grew in all higher age groups. The pandemic institutional cushion did not protect us all equally. Those young people who escape the general trend, and who at 35 years old are already independent, are also much worse off than a few years ago. In 2014, just 10 years ago, 69% had achieved the status of owners of their homes. Eight years later, that percentage has collapsed to 32%. The reason? Impossibility of saving due to low salaries, real inflation above the increase in income and an increasing barrier to entry into the mortgage market due to not meeting the conditions it demands.

The report provides much more data in the same direction. Anyone who studies it in depth will notice that an urgent reflection on the generational gap that is opening up among Spaniards is required on our political agenda. Not to unleash an absurd war between young and old, which on the other hand already filters into many of the conversations. But it is to become aware of the accentuated privilege that it means in our country – in terms of material matters – to belong to the generations that already have gray hair. We must rebalance public policies that tend to shield this situation that has already led to injustice.

A country in which only the lottery of being born into a certain family protects the material security of the entire life cycle – from the cradle to the grave – is a failed place. Perhaps there, and not only in the much-vaunted culture wars, structural arguments can also be found to understand why young people throw themselves with increasing devotion into the arms of increasingly radical political offers. Perhaps in their eyes, those of us who inhabit more conventional paradigms are part of the problem. Unless we are their parents and we have the means to push them up or at least to hold their hand so they don’t slide down. Because for the most part they, by themselves, can no longer get on any rocket. Neither to Sánchez’s nor to any other.