It was the idea of a "citizen's inheritance" that made headlines. But there was a more important finding in the Resolution Foundation's report on intergenerational inequality—one that destroys the myth of millennial irresponsibilityby Sarah Manavis / May 9, 2018 / Leave a comment
Making a joke about millennials and avocados has moved beyond the point of being provocative into being simply boring. Used to mock the generation born between 1981-2000 for spending too much on meals out and having too little in their savings account, this tired joke has become only the most cliché way for baby boomers to blame millennials for their own financial ruin.
But on Tuesday, the Resolution Foundation turned that idea on its head. Publishing the findings of a two year study, the group proposed that every 25-year-old in Britain should be paid £10,000 to make up for an uncovered generational inequality suffered by millennials. Dubbed the “citizen’s inheritance,” this lump-sum would be a “small a restricted-use asset endowment” for young people to use for very specific purposes, including, but not limited to, “skills, entrepreneurship, housing and pension saving.”
Although the 229-page report delves into far more than just this idea, it’s this proposal that has, for obvious reasons, made the headlines. The £10K policy proposal has already conjured up strong reactions, from provocateurs and measured commentators alike. With the proposed funding for this policy coming from the money created by taxing pensioners on national insurance, some have suggested that a £10K sticking plaster would not solve intergenerational inequality, and was in fact bound to make the rich richer and the poor not much better off. Other commentators, meanwhile, have heralded the policy as a welcome response to millenials’ financial difficulties.
Millenials aren’t spending more
However, regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, debate about this £10K policy proposal misses the point. Because this report did something far greater than suggest a flashy, controversial policy: it put forward evidence to argue that millennials’ financial situation was not, in fact, self-inflicted ruin, but a tragedy created by the baby boomers who have so roundly criticised them.
Buried in the report—and in many of the media responses to it—was the finding that, 15 years ago, 25 to 34-year-olds spent just as much as 55 to 64-year-olds. Today, millennials are spending 15 per cent less. This, accompanied by lower wages, less opportunity to save, and a bleak future of continued wage stagnation, means that despite the unrelenting myths of expensive stone fruit and nice coffees, millennials are actually…