Britain’s youngest adults have suffered a slump in their discretionary spending power, while people aged 65 and over have enjoyed a sharp 37% rise. The findings shatter the myth of millennials wasting their disposable income on fripperies.
In its first ever national audit on the subject, the Resolution Foundation’s new Intergenerational Centre concludes that compared with people the same age at the turn of the millennium, today’s 18- to 29-year-olds are 7% poorer in real terms after paying rent, or if they can afford them , mortgages. Much of their spare cash goes on groceries, utilities and education – while baby boomers splash out more as a proportion on recreation, restaurants, hotels and culture. “The clear picture in terms of day-to-day living standards as measured through household consumption is of generational progress for the older generation and generational decline for the younger ones,” the report says.
A spokesman for Generation Rent said “resentment is growing” and the co-founder of the Intergenerational Foundation accused older people of “breaking the social contract”. Angus Hanton said older voters allowed policies that have financially hobbled the young: “When asked to ease the pressure on the intergenerational contract by contributing a little more if they have it, older generations have demanded universal benefits for their generation, but not for others.”
The writer is not a boomer, having been born before the Second World War, but recognises the irritating collective sense of entitlement displayed by the boomers. They have brought us successive right-wing governments, short-termism, unattractive greed and a seeming indifference to the poor and the less educated, not to mention shipping jobs to Asia, introducing student loans, bidding up the cost of housing, and introducing the dire and disgraceful gig economy.
All this is a generalisation. The boomers are not a monolithic group. It could be argued that the above cruel and uncaring measures were brought on only by a small proportion of boomers who had (have?)political and financial power, not by the majority. They are observations to be used with caution.
But, excuse the truisms, but if you vote for it you part-own it. And you can’t take it with you. Young people need stable jobs and houses of their own.- now. Wise Epicureans, within the tax rules, should pass over cash to them while they are alive – they need it now, not, given the success of medicine at keeping us all alive, when they are dead. However, if you don’t vote you will be left out, and the boomers tend to vote. The results have not been very encouraging.