Economic concerns causing millennials to wish they had ‘grown up in an earlier time’ - poll

Posted On: 
8th September 2017

More than twice as many UK adults think young people will have a worse, rather than a better, standard of living than their parents, according to a poll.

The Resolution Foundation said young people were facing 'widespread anxiety'
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The new Resolution Foundation study - conducted by Ipsos-MORI - reveals a dramatic shift in the last 15 years, with the proportion of people who think their children will have a better life than them having halved. 

While 48% of respondents thought today’s so-called ‘millennials’ – those in their twenties and early-thirties – will have a worse standard of life than their parents, just 23% thought it would be the other way around.

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Furthermore, a third of millennials (33%) agree that they would prefer to have grown up when their parents were children, compared to 32% who disagree.

The survey showed respondents as believing younger generations will have a more positive experience in areas including entertainment, travelling, freedom to be true to themselves and education – but that these social gains are far outweighed by the economic challenges the young face.

In breaking down the figures, the thinktank found pessimistic attitudes as strongest among those with a degree – at 57%, and of those earning over £55,000 a year - at 55%.

This compared to 44% for those earning under £20,000.

Fears were most felt by millennials themselves, with 53% saying standards would be worse, while those in the older categories of generation X – at 47% - and baby boomers – 44% - shared their view.

In contrast, just 15% of baby boomers and generation X said they’d prefer to be a young person growing up today.

The poll follows a report earlier this week that Philip Hammond is preparing to intervene to help young people in the forthcoming autumn budget.

A Tory MP told the Guardian that at a meeting of backbenchers, the Chancellor asked MPs to submit suggestions on how best to help the disparity between generations and especially how to help students going to university and being “hit with debt”.

They said: "There was a lot of stuff about students. He said look at us, no mortgage, everybody with a pension and never had more money in the current account. You compare that to the younger generation, if they go to university they are hit with debt … and there was a need to address that.”


The Foundation said tackling the living standards challenges that lie behind this “widespread anxiety” needed to be “the central task" for politicians.

Senior Policy Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, Laura Gardiner, said: “That such an anxiety has taken hold despite decades of economic growth, technological advances and growing social freedoms suggests we have failed to ensure that these gains have fully fed through into young people’s living standards and prospects.

She added: “Of course cheaper flights and smarter phones are great, but they’re no substitute for a secure income and a home of one’s own.

“Widespread concern about the prospects of young people is likely to have been one of the driving factors behind their higher turnout than in recent decades in June’s election. Addressing their core concerns about housing, job security and lifetime living standards should be a top priority for all parties, not least because these concerns for young people’s futures are shared by voters of all ages.

Managing Director of Ipsos MORI's Social Research Institute, Bobby Duffy, said: “Concern about the future prospects of the young is a global issue, but one that is particularly stark in Britain.

“Our research programme on millennials has already revealed how the younger generation is being left behind on key metrics like home ownership and income and this new survey shows how these are challenges have not gone unnoticed.

“As well as concerns about millennials’ economic and housing prospects, people also think their lives could be impacted by global instability and war.