Several times, the panelists mention ‘trips to Asia’ as an example of what young people might do, as an alternative to working or getting married and having kids. It’s interesting that Asia now occupies that role, rather than Europe. Europe used to be an exotic destination, and going there was both a test of independence and an opportunity to broaden one’s perspective. Now, Europe has much less claim to being exotic – communication back and forth is trivially easy, border arrangements are simpler than ever, and practically everyone (or at least everyone under 30 or so) can speak some English.
The extent to which Europe has ceased to be exotic because it has become more like North America, compared with the extent to which it is less exotic because people now have a more cosmopolitan knowledge about the world, is an interesting question. Another is: if growth in places like China, South Korea, and Vietnam continues at present, will Asia eventually become as non-threatening and comprehensible as Europe seems to be now?