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Social Justice

Under 30? You're getting poorer faster than any other generation

A decade's worth of research finds under thirties have endured the most marked increase in relative deprivation of any age group in England

A young person, seen from above, sits on the floor looking through a stack of bills in front of a laptop

If you’re under the age of 30, chances are you’ve been told you’ve never had it so good. “Your generation has it so easy,” your grandparents probably say.

But research released today by data scientists at the University of Manchester and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health has confirmed what mounting evidence has recently suggested – under 30s are financially struggling.

A decade’s worth of data sourced from the Office of National Statistics, starting in 2004, revealed that those under 30 are more likely to be living in poverty than older generations. Over 60s, on the other hand, are not only less likely to live in relative poverty but the inequality gaps between them and everyone else has increased over time.

The researchers cited university tuition fees and the increasing cost of housing coupled with real pay as factors in relative deprivation increases in under 30-year-olds.

Relative deprivation is defined as a standard of living below levels enjoyed by the broader society, to a high enough extent to introduce hardship, quantified across income, employment, education and skills, health and disability, crime, barriers to housing and services, and living environment. The data was calculated according to geographical units of 1500 people between 2014 and 2015, providing one of the most detailed pictures yet of how deprivation affects us across the country.

Cut out sandwiches to help solve housing crisis, says estate agent

Professor Evan Kontonpantelis from the University of Manchester said the housing market is arguably the most important interpretation of the findings.

“The average house in England and Wales costs 7.6 times the average annual salary in 2016, up from 3.6 times in 1997,” he said.“And these large increases in house prices over a relatively short period of time have provided a large advantage to the older generation, for who it was much cheaper to get on the property ladder.”

Kontonpantelis also highlighted salaries, finding that real pay fell sharply after the 2008 financial crisis, with recovery now largely negated post-Brexit.

So what does it mean for you if you’re under 30? Big changes to policy, according to Kontonpantelis.

“The inequalities this work highlights may have significant implications for future fiscal and healthcare policy.”

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