More young people in Liverpool and Manchester grow up in jobless households than anywhere else in the UK, a charity report suggests.
Prince's Trust research found that one-in-three children in the cities have parents who do not work. Across the UK, the figure is about one-in-six.
Researchers found this left them more likely to grow up feeling talentless and expecting to end up on the dole.
"The north west is badly affected," said charity spokesman Paul Brown.
The Prince's Trust research was based on interviews with 2,048 people aged 16 to 24 from across the UK, combined with statistics.
It found that 77% of young people in the north west of England had struggled to find a job, while 9% end up on benefits because those around them have.
"In both Manchester and Liverpool more than a third of children are growing up in households where no-one works and the Princes Trust is really concerned about their future," said Mr Brown.
"The figures are often worst in inner city areas, and areas of high poverty and traditionally high unemployment.
"If you grow up in a family where there isn't anybody getting up in the morning and going to work, if that's not part of the natural cycle of the day, then it can be very difficult for you to realise that having a job is actually a normal and positive thing."
Almost two million children in the UK live in workless households, the highest number in the European Union, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The Prince's Trust research found that many young people want to work, but lack positive adult role models and have little idea of the opportunities available to them.
The report called Destined for the Dole? also found about three-quarters (76%) of young people wanted to find a good job and nearly two-thirds (65%) said their main aim was to support their family.