Generation Y, the first young people who will live worse off than their parents

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Generation Y, the first young people who will live worse off than their parents

Written by Quico Rafols

Several studies provide data showing that young people born between 1981 and 1996 have a more difficult time. Difficulties in accessing the labor market and the price of housing mean that they have fewer resources.

Young people born between 1981 and 1996 are known as ‘millenials’, or Generation Y. They were children or teenagers at the time of the change. They were children or teenagers at the turn of the millennium (2000), hence their name. And they experienced intensely the great changes brought about by the Internet. They are the first generation that will probably live worse than their parents. Until now, economic progress meant that children always achieved a higher quality of life than their parents. But this rule has been broken.

Sociological studies say that young people in Europe and the United States have worse expectations for the future than previous generations. This is due to the great crisis that broke out in 2007, when it was their turn to get jobs. Their parents were born between 1946 and 1965 and are part of the baby boom (many births in a few years) that occurred after World War II and, in the case of Spain, after its Civil War (1936-1939). They are known as boomers.

Then came Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1980. Both generations (boomers and X) progressed and achieved more wellbeing than parents and grandparents. The next generation is known as Generation Z, or ‘Centennial’. They are those born between 1994 and 2010. It is still too early to know what their expectations for the future are.

We focus on millennials because they represent a historic trend change. They were born into a Europe that was more prosperous than their parents, but were hit hard by globalization, the Great Recession, the fiscal strains generated by the increase in life expectancy and the maintenance of the welfare state, and the pressure of skyrocketing housing prices (owned or rented).

For example, the unemployment rate of Gen Y youth in Spain was as high as 26%. On the other hand, that of young people of the previous generation (generation X), when they were the same age, was much lower, at 17%, according to Eurostat statistics.

The fundamental differences between the two generations lie not only in the difficulty of finding a job. But in the conditions of this work. Conditions are more precarious, with more temporary and part-time contracts than those of the previous generation, especially in Spain, Italy and Portugal. Finding work later in life has a negative effect on wages, an effect that can last for about 10 years.

Generation Y is made up of young people who are highly educated and capable of adding value to the labour market. They are people who appreciate issues such as work-life balance and competitive salaries, and are prepared to work with the latest technology and to receive training. They value proximity to superiors and regular feedback, and a collaborative and flexible work environment.

The housing problem

Difficulties in finding a job have consequences that are paid for many years. The main one is the difficulty in accessing housing. Thus, these young people, especially those between the ages of 25 and 29, have mostly opted for renting. Specifically, 55% of those who have been emancipated have done so in this way.

The generational differences are very significant: in the United States, 25-34 year olds are one-third poorer than Generation Xers in the same age bracket. In Europe, the gap is even wider; the average net wealth of Gen Y young people is only 5% of what Gen X young people accumulated when they were the same age.

This large difference can be explained by the fact that a significant number of young people from Generation X managed to buy their homes, which have appreciated in value over time. On the other hand, the unfavorable financial situation of Generation Y, caused mainly by the economic crisis, puts them in a much more precarious position.

But the analysis would be incomplete without taking into account what is happening on a global scale. While in rich countries (United States, France, Belgium, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Spain …) Generation Y will live worse than their parents, in developing countries they will have a better life than their parents. Possibly thanks to the benefits of globalisation, which, in turn, has impoverished young people in countries considered rich.

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Generation Y, the first young people who will live worse off than their parents

Written by Quico Rafols

Young people born between 1981 and 1996 are known as ‘millenials’, or Generation Y. They were children or teenagers at the time of the change. They were children or teenagers at the turn of the millennium (2000), hence their name. And they experienced intensely the great changes brought about by the Internet.

They are the first generation that will probably live worse than their parents. Until now, economic progress meant that children always achieved a higher quality of life than their parents. But this rule has been broken.

Sociological studies show that young people in Europe and the United States have worse expectations for the future than previous generations.

This is due to the great crisis that broke out in 2007, when it was their turn to get jobs.

Their parents were born between 1946 and 1965 and are part of the baby boom (many births in a few years) that followed the Second World War.

Then came Generation X, those born between 1965 and 1980.

Both generations (baby boom and X) progressed and achieved more prosperity than their parents and grandparents.

And then a new generation called Generation Z, or ‘Centennial’. They are those born between 1994 and 2010. It is still too early to know what their expectations for the future are.

We focus on the millennials (Generation Y) because they are the trend-setters.

They were born into a more prosperous Europe than their parents, but were hit hard by: globalisation; the Great Recession of 2008; the fiscal pressures generated by increasing life expectancy and the maintenance of the welfare state; and the pressure of soaring house prices (owned or rented).

The fundamental differences between the two generations lie not only in the difficulty of finding a job. But in the conditions of this work. With more temporary and part-time contracts than the previous generation had, especially in Spain, Italy and Portugal.

Generation Y is made up of young people who are highly educated and capable of adding value to the labour market. They appreciate issues such as work-life balance and are prepared to work with the latest technology and to receive training.

Difficulties in finding a job have consequences that are paid for many years. The main one is the difficulty in accessing housing.

Generational differences are very significant: in the United States, 25-34 year olds are a third poorer than Generation X when they were the same age.

In Europe, the difference is even greater; the average net wealth of Gen Y is only 5% of what Gen Xers accumulated.

This large difference can be explained by the fact that many Gen Xers bought homes that have appreciated in value over time. In contrast, the unfavourable financial situation of Generation Y, caused mainly by the economic crisis, puts them in a precarious position.

But the analysis would be incomplete without taking into account what is happening on a global scale. In rich countries (United States, France, Belgium, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Spain …) Generation Y will live worse than their parents.

In developing countries they will have a better life than their parents. Possibly thanks to the benefits of globalisation, which, in turn, has impoverished young people in countries considered rich.

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They are known as millennials or Generation Y.
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