As promised I’ve read the report!
At the start of the week I blogged about a new report by the Intergenerational Commission called as time goes by. I promise to read the while 45 page report, which I have now done. Well almost. I will admit to getting rather hot under the collar which made it a bit difficult to concentrate. This wasn’t helped by spotting this article in the Daily Mail this morning: “A Generation with a huge sense of entitlement: Bosses complain that millennials are spoilt, full of themselves, averse to hard work and expect ‘success on a plate’ so what does that mean of society?” (Short answer of course, nothing. It’s a stereotype that tells us nothing about those born in a particular year; but of course the impact of the stereotype perpetuated in this way is a real concern to us @ageatwork).
So having been side tracked here are some quotes from the Resolution Foundation / Intergenerational Commission report and my views:
Progression between generations is described as “the natural order”. This is intriguing. I wonder if the continuing wealth gap between those at the top and the bottom of the income levels is also the natural order? The report tries to address this by saying “while inter and intra generational equity are different concepts they are nevertheless intertwined”. This gives the impression that generation is the pre-eminent lens through which we should view issues of inequity. This seems very odd to say the least, particularly as there is no academic agreement about the divisions between or labels for different generational cohorts.
There is much discussion of ‘typical’ and ‘average’ here. This can provide a broad sense of one view on the distribution of income – but only one view.
It is claimed that millennials are suffering from generational-specific trends. But this argument is not clearly explained. Particularly why is a cohort lens the only one that is relevant to understand the experiences of this age group? There is some but insufficient comparison of the generational categories at particular chronological ages.
A lot of attention in the report is given to comparing ‘pensioners’ to ‘working age families’. The whole notion of ‘working age’ is currently undergoing a radical change. And this is indeed an issue of importance to us all, as notions of retirement are being radically overhauled. Why not open this up for debate?
I will return to the point I made on Monday. To stereotype any generation – negatively in the (insert word of choice) Daily Mail article today – or to portray the millennials as hard done by in comparison with the well off Baby Boomers, as is the tendency in this report, is problematic. These stereotypes have real effects, and perpetuating them is not helping anyone of any age.