Generational gap: five charts that reveal the disparities between young and old

However, after the 2008 recession, the number of young people working part-time involuntarily increased sharply, while older people were relatively unaffected.

In 2019, only 1.9% of those over 65 worked part-time against their will, while almost 20% of 16-24 year-olds were in this situation due to an inability to find full-time work.

The situation has worsened since the coronavirus pandemic, which saw the youngest age groups most affected by layoffs.

The Intergenerational Foundation has called work and employment “key issues” for intergenerational equality, indicating that the stable full-time jobs once available to older generations are not as readily available to young people today.

This is in part due to an increase in precarious work and zero hour contracts.

Wages have also stagnated over the past decade, with 16 to 17 year olds seeing the biggest drop in hourly wages in real terms – from £ 5.60 in 2004 to £ 5.12 in 2020.

The older working age group, meanwhile, has seen a 13% increase since 2004, from £ 12.04 to £ 13.60 in 2020.


While all age groups under 65 and over have seen declines in homeownership rates, the youngest age group has been hit hardest.

In 2013-14, the homeownership rate among 16-24 year olds was only 37% of the homeownership rate ten years earlier in 2003-04, with house prices continuing to rise. increase today.

In 1997, the average full-time worker could expect to pay around 3.5 times their annual salary to buy a home: a figure that has risen to 7.8 for England and 11.8 for London in 2020.

Over the past decade, people aged 16 to 29 have consistently had less living space than older generations, with the 65 and over group being the only age group not to have seen a decrease noticeable space over the past 10 years.

In 2017/18, when data was last available, 16 to 29 year olds on average had less than 65 square meters of living space, while those 45 to 64 years old had more than 75 square meters on average.

In 2019, figures showed that 52% of all homeowners in the UK were under-occupied their homes, suggesting that living space is not shared equally across generations.

Government funding

The foundation’s report also revealed a huge disparity in spending between retirees and young people.

In 2018/19, the government was spending an average of £ 20,800 for every retiree in the country, compared to £ 14,700 for every child, a difference of £ 6,000.

Spending for young people is also less well protected. Preferential travel for retirees is protected by law, while preferential travel for children and young people is granted on a discretionary basis.

The Intergenerational Foundation points out that this is particularly unfair when you consider that children up to 18 are legally required to stay and travel for education or training, with an apprenticeship salary of just £ 4.30 Of time.

Personal heritage

The combination of rising house prices, triple foreclosure on pensions and stagnant wages has revealed huge disparities in the personal wealth held by the younger and older generations.

In the six years from 2010/12 to 2016/18, the median individual wealth gap between the oldest and youngest age group increased by around 43%.

While the older generations have accumulated more wealth over time, the real wealth of the two youngest age groups (16 to 24 and 25 to 24) barely increased over this period.

The two oldest age groups (55 to 64 and 65 and over) recorded the largest gains in real median individual wealth, with the 65 and over group seeing an increase of about 90,000 £ since 2010/12.

Subscribe to The Big Number

From just £ 3 per week

Take a print or digital subscription to The Big Issue and provide an essential lifeline to our work. With every subscription we invest every penny in supporting the seller network across the UK. A subscription also means you’ll never miss weekly editions of an award-winning publication, with each issue featuring key voices in life, culture, politics and social activism.

Cost of life

On top of that, the cost of living has increased dramatically for the younger ones.

In the early 2000s, data collected by the Intergenerational Foundation showed that the oldest and youngest age groups were spending a similar percentage of their family income on essentials like food and living expenses.

This was around 53 percent for those under 35 and over 65.

In 2018/19, however, the only age group spending less on basic necessities were those over 65, with all other age groups spending a higher proportion of their income than in 2000/01.

Those under 35 have been the hardest hit, spending the largest proportion of their income – 62% – on essential goods and services.

Today for tomorrow

Join our Today for Tomorrow campaign

Big Issue’s Today for Tomorrow campaign aims to tackle the climate crisis, poverty and pandemics with the Future Generations Wellbeing Bill. Support the bill and email your MP today!

What can be done to bridge the generation gap?

Without action against intergenerational injustice, these gaps will only widen in the years to come.

Measures in policy areas such as housing, taxation and employment will be very helpful, but addressing these long-term problems will require planning.

The Future Generations Bill, by Big Issue founder Lord John Bird, aims to tackle generational inequalities by forcing policymakers to assess all policies based on their impact on future generations.

The bill, currently under consideration in parliament, will force politicians to look beyond their own political terms, avoiding a policy that benefits those who are alive today while disadvantaging generations to come.

In addition to avoiding intergenerational injustice, the bill intends to improve policies on all social issues, from homelessness to climate change.

You can support the bill on the Future Generations Bill website, where you can ask your MP to support it in parliament.