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The “financial rout” facing millenials

by on March 8, 2016

A two-week Guardian project, supported by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, reports on the “financial rout facing millennials” aims to explore this predicament in depth and ask what can be done.

The report explains that:

“Using exclusive data from the largest database of international incomes in the world, at LIS (Luxembourg Income Study): Cross-National Data Center, the investigation into the situation in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the US has also established that:

  • Prosperity has plummeted for young adults in the rich world.
  • In the US, under-30s are now poorer than retired people.
  • In the UK, pensioner disposable income has grown prodigiously – three times as fast as the income of young people.
  • Millennials have suffered real terms losses in wages in the US; Italy; France; Spain; Germany and Canada and in some countries this was underway even before the 2008 financial crisis.”

The article is accompanied by interviews illustrating these points.  However there perhaps needs to be more than a word of caution about the reporting of generational averages, which obviously conceal a huge amount of variation.   It would perhaps be more interesting to explore issues of income disadvantage irrespective of age to see how these are, for example, concentrated in different areas or among different groups.

Somewhat inevitably, there is a particular focus on the housing market, access to which is of course a cause for concern particularly in the UK.  This is impacting first time buyers, particularly in certain areas, regardless of their age.

So yes, these figures are concerning and worthy of attention but no they do not tell the full story income distribution and how it has changed over time.  Other classifications might have been used here to refine the story told.

This is just one of a series of articles in the Guardian on “Millenials: the Trials of Generation Y” which include a useful global perspective of issues but perhaps in our view could have done more to critique the usefulness of the generational concept and the dangers of generational stereotypes across the board.  An opportunity missed in our view.


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