Stagnation Generation: the case for renewing the intergenerational contract

Just like families, states and societies are underpinned by a social contract between the generations – collectively supporting each of us through the stages of our lives, and crucially doing so fairly. But this contract looks at risk of fraying. Even before the EU referendum result highlighted big differences between the generations, with the under 45s voting to remain and the over 45s to leave, issues of intergenerational fairness were rising up the agenda.

These concerns have been driven by some visible problems. Young people have experienced the biggest pay squeeze in the aftermath of the financial crisis, seen their dreams of home ownership drift out of sight and witnessed a welfare state in retreat. No doubt some of these strains on the intergenerational contract are short-term in their nature and will unwind naturally over time, but there is a sense that many of them run deeper.

In this document, which marks the launch of the Intergenerational Commission, we dig deeper into some of the experiences of younger generations to identify both reasons for optimism and causes for concern. In doing so, we establish a framework for thinking about intergenerational issues and highlight the scope for policy to make a difference.

The microsite for the Intergenerational Commission is here.