Generation Y are the least optimistic about their chances of leading a better life than their parents, a new study by Ipsos published today finds. Just one third (33%) of those from Generation Y (born between 1980 and 2000) agree that their generation will have had a better life than their parent’s generation, compared to two thirds of those from the Baby Boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1965), finds the study conducted for the Guardian.
A majority (54%) of the public now think that quality of life for today’s youth will be lower than that of their parents, with just one in five (22%) saying that their quality of life will be higher. This is the highest percentage of people saying quality of life will be lower for young people since we started asking this question, and represents a nineteen percentage-point increase in pessimism since 2011, when one third (35%) felt that today’s youth would have a worse standard of life. When this question was asked in 2003, just 12 per cent of the public felt that the quality of life for today’s youth would be lower than that of their parents.
And this isn’t just a result of young people themselves thinking they will have it tough – in fact, baby boomers are the most pessimistic about young peoples’ futures: 63% think young people will have a worse quality of life than their parents.
However, people continue to be more optimistic about their own future; 37 per cent of those from Generation Y feel that they personally will have a better standard of life than their parents, whilst two in ten feel it will be worse (22%). Those from the pre-war generation (born prior to 1945) are the most positive, with nine-in-ten (91%) agreeing that their personal quality of life has been higher than that of their parents.
When asked to list the ways that they feel Generation Y’s life will be more difficult than those of their parents, housing and employment dominate responses. One third (36%) say that difficulties in affording their own home will make life more difficult, and a quarter are concerned about poorly paid (25%) and less secure work (24%). Overall, almost half of the public mentioned an issue related to each of employment (48%) or housing (47%). For those in Generation Y, the focus is more strongly on issues related to employment (48%) than housing (39%).
Bobby Duffy, MD of the Ipsos Social Research Institute said:
"The decline in optimism for young people’s future over the last decade is quite remarkable, and one of the key trends of our time. Now over half of the population think things will be worse for young people than it was for their parents. And this pessimism isn’t only due to young people themselves – nearly two-thirds of baby boomers think things will be worse for young people, which will be partly driven by their concern for their own children. This is important: young people vote less, and their concerns are maybe less of a focus for politicians as a result. But baby boomers are a politically powerful group – and their concern for their children is at record levels."
- This study was conducted as part of the Guardian’s investigation “Millennials: the trials of Generation Y”.
Technical noteIpsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,001 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone between 13 and 16 February 2016. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.
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