Today, we publish our second annual Young Money probe into the attitudes of Britain’s twentysomethings – “Generation Austerity”. Here, MRM director MICHAEL TAGGART, who co-authored the study, reports on the hopes and fears of a generation that has known almost nothing in their working lives but recession and economic gloom.
As the UK finally emerges, blinking, from arguably the deepest economic crisis of the post-war era, the children of ‘Generation Austerity’ are beginning to surface.
Until now, these 20-29 year olds have known nothing other than a national drawing of the purse strings in their adult lives: falling wages, increasing competition for jobs, rising poverty, rock bottom interest rates, public spending cuts and a national housing crisis to name but a few of the hurdles most have had to vault to succeed in life.
So how has this affected the perceptions, attitudes and beliefs about the world of the children of Generation A? That is the question at the core of our second annual Young Money report – read it here – and a question that we are finally in a position to answer fully as the economy shows real signs of recovery. The results of our research have been stark.
In essence, we discovered a highly conservative (with a small c) generation of twentysomethings – perhaps more so than any other in the last 50 years.
Few would argue that young adults have traditionally been far more footloose and fancy-free than their parents and grandparents. Yet our study suggests that today’s twentysomethings are, if anything, more anxious about the world than are older generations.
The children of Generation A are less confident about their rights to help from the state and their entitlement to life opportunities than older adults. They feel less entitled to state hand-outs and help, like unemployment benefit and free education or healthcare.
They also feel less likely to qualify for paid leave from work and are more pessimistic about job opportunities.
The bleak socio-economic landscape has also affected Generation A’s attitude towards foreign nationals. Twentysomethings believe foreign people coming to live in the UK should be less entitled than British nationals to state services and benefits.
We also uncovered lifestyle attitudes that smack of frugality and ‘no frills’.
For example most of our twentysomethings were in favour of a ‘back to brass tacks’ approach from the financial services they used. Most wanted banks to strengthen their core offering, rather than innovate.
So has half a decade of fiscal belt-tightening spawned a generation of social and economic conservatives? Is Generation A the last set of twentysomethings in history who are genuinely more conservative than their parents? Click here to read Generation Austerity.
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