Three ways life has actually improved for millennials since last year

Lynsey Barber
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Millennial life has improved ever so slightly in some areas in the short-term (Source: Getty)

Millennials... they might get a bad rap for being lazy, whiney and selfishly obsessed with selfies among other things, but it's a generation that's been saddled with debt, spiralling living costs and lower wages than any previous generation.

And the socio-economic situation of young people has remained largely unchanged over the last year, new research reveals, while the bad news is, some areas - namely the burden of the nation's pensions bill, access to health services and education, and the environment - have worsened.

Read more: In hindsight, we don't need no education: Millennials regret going to uni

But, on the other hand, there is a tiny glimpse of good news where there are some small signs that things have improved ever so slightly, according the Intergenerational Foundation's (IF) annual fairness index.


The difference between youth unemployment and unemployment across the general population has shrunk in the last 12 months. It's a start, but the report does note it remains three times higher and is still above the levels seen before the financial crisis.


In what is perhaps the most unlikeliest news for any millennial eyeing the first rung of the property ladder, the housing situation has improved. The housing index score improved more than any other thanks to a concerted effort to build more houses, with the number of new builds up 12 per cent in the past 12 months.

Once again though, this slight improvement masks a longer term issue that needs to change at a much faster pace to place the younger generations on a more level footing with previous ones - house-building is still below pre-recession levels and other housing costs are still rising.


With more young people in work, the burden of government debt now falls on more shoulders. So, despite a rise in total debt of around half a trillion pounds in the last 12 months, debt per person fell.


While millennials can take away those three nuggets of reassurance that it's not complete doom and gloom, the longer-term view is that action needs to be taken to address the imbalances between young and old, according to the report's author.

“Unless urgent action is taken, younger generations will become locked further out of housing, unable to access state help, and made to pay ever higher costs for higher education, while bearing the pension costs of a rapidly ageing population,” said Angus Hanton, co-founder of the IF think tank.

The socio-economic status of millennials remains considerably worse now than it did in 2000. In the past 12 months, there have been cut backs on young people's health services, greenhouse gas emissions increased and the number of teenagers getting good GCSEs declined.

Pensions in particular are the most troubling issue - public sector liabilities ballooned 12 per cent to £44,000 per worker and state pension liabilities inched up 1.4 per cent to £2,846 each.

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“Public sector pensions represent one of the largest unfunded burdens for younger taxpayers who will not retire at the same age, or on the same terms, while having to contribute more to their own pensions. Increasing retirement ages and moving to career average pensions will not be enough to stall the pension burden avalanche that is bearing down on the young," said Hanton.

"Auto-enrollment is an apparent success except that it leaves young people paying twice - saving for their own pensions while also paying for the pensions of older generations through taxation.”

These issues in effect cancelled out the progress made in others, leaving millennials' status largely stagant.

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