Past vs Present - How will we fare against previous generations?
'the current generation is left worse off financially'
Edited by Edmund Wilson | 3 December 2018

The next generation, Generation Z, is up and coming; but how will this generation fare against the previous ones? 

Let’s start with the present generation, millennials. They were heavily affected by the financial crash in 2008, being left 7% worse off on average, which can be shown through examples such as ever-increasing house prices. The number of 25-year-old Brits owning their own home has almost halved over the past 20 years, while 14.5% of older millennials live with their parents or grandparents, which is 3 times higher than those aged 33 to 55. Overall, millennials are 2 and a half times more likely to live with their parents than the older generation. 

It does not help that, the tuition fee cap having tripled in 2012, people will now be leaving university with an average debt of more than £50,000, making students suffer from crippling debt while trying to make it on their own. However, this generation are considerably more educated than in previous years, particularly women. Only 7% of women in the 1920s-1940s had a bachelor’s degree, whereas in 2010-11 there were more female (55%) than male full-time undergraduates (45%) enrolled at university. This shows no signs of stopping, with women less likely to drop out of university. 

In past generations, both men and women were less educated, particularly women, and at the start of the 20th century, they were still not allowed to attend universities. They were allowed to graduate from top universities more recently then you would expect, with women only starting to graduate from Cambridge in 1948. 

There have also been some serious social revolutions affecting both women and men, with the UK’s Equal Pay Act in the 1970s and America’s Civil Rights fight in the 1960s addressing different equality issues. The forming of the United Nations put an emphasis on all people having individual rights, bringing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that is observed by most countries today. 

Also past generations, from around the 1960s, were willing to spend more money as things were considerably cheaper than nowadays, with prices rising more and more due to inflation. This effectively means people can now buy considerably less than they could in the 1960s with the same amount of money. 

But where does that leave Generation Z, those born from 1996 to 2010? To start with, 77% of Generation Z expect to work harder than previous generations; however, they are also expected to be more competitive with their colleagues and are predicted to want to work independently in their own workspace rather than collaboratively. This could help explain why 72% of Generation Zs in secondary school would rather start their own business than work for others, possibly becoming the next generation of business owners. 

Despite all of this ambition, Generation Zs are more lonely, anxious and depressed as well as less socially capable and more sleep deprived. This is largely attributed to social media, yet social media have also been a contributor to the expectation that Generation Z will be one of the most accepting generations in history, with communities such as LGBTQ+ having achieved huge strides, particularly in the legal domain with gay marriage being legitimised in 2013. 

In conclusion, the current generation is left worse off financially with young people facing large debts due to prices skyrocketing and wages dropping. However, we are the most socially accepting and liberal generation so far as well as the most educated. Yet the debate continues as to whether a more career-driven generation is good if it sacrifices the mental health of its individuals in the process.

Original image.

James Routledge 2016