A majority of Britons think it will be harder for teenagers today to get a good job, buy a home, and enjoy a reasonable standard of living than it was for their parents
NatWest chairman Sir Howard Davies caused a stir earlier in the month by saying he didn’t think that it was “that difficult” to get on the property ladder in the UK.
Sir Howard was widely ridiculed for his remarks, with many highlighting examples of how house price increases have outstripped wage growth over recent decades, and the inevitable questions about intergenerational fairness that raises.
The discussion gives us an opportunity to check in on how the public think life prospects are changing for the next generation.
Opening the archives shows that a YouGov survey conducted in 2012 found that 88% of Britons said that ‘teenagers today’ would find it harder than their parents’ generation to buy a home – including 67% who said it would be “much harder”. Only 3% thought it would be easier, while 7% thought it would be about the same.
Fast forward 12 years to now and we find those figures are virtually unchanged. A similar 84% say it will be harder for teenagers today to buy a home than it was for their parents (including 66% who say “much harder”), while 4% think it will be easier and 8% imagine it will be about the same.
These results, paired with others from the same survey, suggest that most people think it is harder for the next generation to secure for themselves the foundation blocks of a good life in the UK.
Fully 60% of Britons think it is harder for today’s teenagers to enjoy a reasonable standard of living than their parents’ generation (about the same as the 56% it was 12 years ago), and 54% think it is harder for them to get a good job (although this is down from 77% in 2012).
Indeed, Britons are less sure than they were that today’s teenagers will be able to live until age 80 than their parents. While in 2012 the proportion thinking young people would find it easier or about the same as their parents to live to 80 stood at 80%, this figure has since fallen to 71%.
Older Britons are less likely to think the next generation will find it harder to get ahead
Older Britons tend to be the least likely to think that things will be harder for teenagers than their parents found it.
For instance, while 65% of 18-24 year olds think it will be harder for today’s teenagers to enjoy a reasonable standard of living, that figure falls to 45% among the over-65s.
And while older Britons are about as likely as other age groups to think it will be harder for teenagers to buy a house some day, they are less likely to believe it will be “much harder”, at 54% compared to 65-71% of other age groups.
There has also been some substantial divergence in opinion between the generations over the last 12 years.
This is particularly noticeable when it comes to the effort required to attain a reasonable standard of living. While the number of 18-24 year olds who think teenagers today will find it harder to enjoy a reasonable standard of living has risen by 22 points from 43% to 65%, among older people it has fallen 13 points from 58% to 45%.
And while the number of 18-24 year olds who think it will be harder for today’s teenagers to get a good job is only eight points lower than it was in 2012 (from 68% to 60%), among the oldest Britons that figure has fallen by an enormous 40 points, from 86% to 46%.