Good news! If you were born in the UK since 2007 (unlikely, if you’re reading this) then you can expect to live for over 100 years. But there’s a catch. I’ll get to that.
This blog is called jinxedgeneration for a reason – it’s main focus will be on young people, particularly in Britain – those who aspire to live well but are set to inherit an unsustainable world on a collision course with catastrophe. No, I’m not banging on about global warming, although that’s part of the problem. I’m talking about housing, healthcare, income, jobs and quality of life: the transfer of wealth from the young to the old.
A few fast facts about the UK:
- By 2030 there will be 51 per cent more people aged over 65 and double the number over 85.
- In 1950, men spent 18 per cent of their lives in retirement and women 26 per cent. In 2005, those figures were 30 per cent and 36 per cent respectively.
- For the first time, disposable income (spare cash to spend on fun stuff) for people over 60 is now higher than for people in their 20s.
- When housing is taken into account, people in their 70s and 80s have a higher standard of living than those in their 20s.
In the UK, hitting 70 is like hitting the jackpot (yes, I know there are always exceptions). It is a wonderful thing that we can give our elderly people free healthcare, free fuel in the winter, free TV licenses, free bus travel, free prescriptions and subsidise housing and carers for those who don’t have the means. But here’s the catch: at the rate that people are turning wrinkly, the country won’t be able to afford it. Why? Because too many people are getting old and not enough people are of working age and earning the money to pay for the retired. This is also a big problem for our friends across the pond. In a nutshell: the older generation is richer than ever before, and costing the younger generation more than ever before. That seems about as fair as blaming a chocolate teapot for melting.
Here’s a scary graphic, courtesy of the Financial Times (you can find a better, more comprehensive but more complicated one here):
The FT actually did a whole special feature on the jinxed generation, which is where this blog derives its name, and a House of Lords report was released at the beginning of March which closely examined the problem of an ageing population – a problem which will lead to the young being saddled with the cost of the old. The report said that the UK is in for a “series of miserable crises” if the problem isn’t addressed and that the government is “woefully unprepared” for the consequences. I quote: “we [Lords, high and mighty] feel that the Government have not looked at ageing from the point of view of the public nor considered how policies might need to change to ensure that people are better equipped to address their longer lives.”
Well…that’s not good enough. In Britain, our political class is dominated by middle-aged people (read: men) pretending to be young. Taking off your tie and undoing your top button does not mean you know how young people think, or behave, or need.
This is where I come in: yes, we youngsters may be adding words like “chavtastic” to the dictionary but politicians shouldn’t have to buy a copy to hear our voice. I will do my level best to bring a young person’s perspective on news and all political pondering about the jinxed generation. Together, we are heard.
Bottom line: I invite you to join in the conversation.