Major survey reveals a generation in crisis

Thursday 22 September 2016

Anxious, worn down and fearing for the future: Major survey of 18-30 year olds reveals a generation in crisis, with young women worst affected

Millions of young people in Britain are being hit by serious financial and work problems and pessimism about the future with young women worst affected, according to a major new study of 18-30 year olds by the charity Young Women’s Trust.

Drawing on findings from a major poll of 4,000 18-30 year olds carried out by Populus Data Solutions, No Country for Young Women, reveals a despairing and worn down generation of 18-30 year olds, many of whose lives are on hold because of financial, work and housing problems.

Worries about work, finances and housing

As a result of financial pressures, young people aged 18-30 are having to put their lives on hold. Almost half (48%) said they may have to put off having children. 43% still live at home and a quarter (24%) had to move back in with their parents because they couldn’t afford to live independently. 56% of young people said they would consider moving abroad for work.

This is unsurprising given the difficulties in earning enough money reported by many young people. Three in ten young people had been offered a zero hours contract (30%). More than one in five reported having been paid less than the minimum wage (22%), and 28% of young people in work said they didn’t have enough paid hours. Almost half (48%) said they are worried about how much their job pays.

Financial pressures are particularly affecting young women, with 39% of young women saying it was a real struggle to make their cash last until the end of the month (compared with 27% of young men). 42% of young people said it would be a big financial problem if they had to replace a large item such as a fridge or washing machine this year (45% of young women, 39% of young men). Fewer than four in ten young people (36%) thought they would be debt-free by the time they are 40. One in 12 parents (8%) aged 18-30 reported having to use a foodbank to survive.

The survey also found that 30% of young women had experienced sex discrimination when working or looking for work. A majority of young people said women still face discrimination in the workplace, with young women (72%) more likely to recognise this than young men (54%).

The future’s not bright for young people

The psychological effect of these pressures facing millennials is taking its toll. The survey found that amongst 18-30 year olds:

  • 47% lack self-confidence, with young women (54%) much more likely to say this than young men (39%)
  • Over half of young people said they feel worried for the future (55% of young women, 47% of young men)
  • Four in ten (42%) said they feel worn down (46% of young women, 38% of young men)
  • One in three said they were worried about their mental health (38% of young women, 29% of young men).

In response to the survey findings, Young Women’s Trust is calling for addressing the challenges faced by young people to be at the heart of policymaking across government. Amongst the measures the charity wants to see are:

  • A Minister established within central government with responsibility for overall youth policy, including youth employment
  • A commitment from Government to moving towards extending the National Living Wage to under 25s
  • A greater focus, including through JobCentre Plus, on supporting young adults – especially young women - with confidence, emotional wellbeing and employability.

Speaking today, Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust said:

“At a time of life traditionally characterised by youthful confidence and optimism, it is distressing that so many young people, especially young women, are struggling to make ends meet, and are increasingly worn down and worried about the future.

Make no mistake about it, we’re talking about a generation of young people in crisis. And while life is hard for many young people, our survey shows it’s likely to be considerably tougher if you are a young woman.

It’s not in any of our interests to write off an entire generation. Much more needs to be done to improve young people’s prospects, including through creating a Minister for young people, extending the National Living Wage to under 25s, delivering on Government commitments to improve housing options for young people and tackling workplace discrimination. Our findings also show that there needs to be a particular focus on better understanding the needs of young women who are at real risk of being left behind.”

Read the full report here

Notes to editors

For further information, including copies of ‘No Country for Young Women: Young Women’s Trust Annual Survey 2016’, survey breakdowns and case studies please contact joe.levenson@youngwomenstrust.org / 0207 600 7451 / 07495 981142.

Young Women’s Trust commissioned Populus Data Solutions to undertake a survey of young people. A representative sample of 4,014 18-30 year olds in Great Britain, from the Populus Live Online Panel, were surveyed between 27 June-13 July 2016.

Young Women’s Trust supports and represents young women aged 16-30 struggling to live on low or no pay in England and Wales and who are at risk of being trapped in poverty.

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