Baby Boomers v Millennials
When it comes to personal finances, which sector of the population has the best deal? The government’s Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into ‘intergenerational fairness’1, to assess whether the widening gulf in intergenerational wealth is a direct result of government policy, or of wider economic and demographic trends.
The inquiry will look at whether the current generation of people in or approaching retirement will, over the course of their lifetimes, have enjoyed and accumulated more housing and financial wealth, and welfare and pension entitlements, than more recent generations can hope to receive.
BONES OF CONTENTION
Last October, the Equality and Human Rights Commission review stated that today’s young people are suffering the “worst economic prospects for several generations”. Millennials often face repaying student debt and difficulties getting onto the housing ladder. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers are perceived to live in big houses, enjoying huge pensions and reaping the rewards of free university education.
Baby Boomers however regard themselves as having worked hard for what they have, having endured economic downturns and periods of high interest rates and inflation. The annual Intergenerational Index report2 reveals a 10% deterioration in the prospects of younger generations relative to older generations between 2010 and 2015 and highlights the decline in the affordability of housing for the under 30s. Exacerbated by a stagnation of incomes, the report concludes that the dream of a home of one’s own is now even further beyond the reach of many young people.
A SKIP IN THE MIDDLE?
A recent Social Market Foundation study3 provided evidence on the choices that older and younger people make as they balance their own future financial requirements with the needs of their families. Their report identified various groups: a in their 50s who see their inheritances diminishing as their older parents help grandchildren meet costs such as education and housing; ‘in-betweeners’ consist of grandparents aged 60–70 who face the pressure of caring for elderly parents and grandchildren, whilst retaining their place in the labour market; ‘under-pressure retirees’ are challenged with providing for their own financial security whilst offering support to future generations
These findings highlight a variety of financial problems that confront families; if you face similar issues, a financial review could help you put plans in place for the benefit of both older and younger generations.
1 Intergenerational Fairness Inquiry, 2016
2 Intergenerational Fairness Index, 2015
3 Longer Lives, Stronger Families, Social Market Foundation, 2016