The promise that living in an affluent society with a healthy economy holds out is that successive generations will enjoy ever-greater opportunities. But in the UK that intergenerational covenant is under threat, thanks to a housing market that means falling numbers of people will own their own home, and an ageing society in which today’s young people will shoulder the burden of higher taxes to meet the health and care costs of their parents’ generation. Sir Keir Starmer is right to focus on this as one of the most important issues a Labour government must address in his interview with the Observer today.
So many factors are against today’s young people. First, there are the inherently difficult economics of an ageing society, the product of falling birthrates. Britain will need to spend a higher proportion of GDP on healthcare and pensions as our population of older people increases, with fewer working-age taxpayers to shoulder these costs. And people in their 20s and 30s will not have the same private pension provision as this generation of retired workers, many of whom have benefited from generous defined-benefit schemes long since closed to younger workers.