Ed Howker and Shiv Malik:
Jilted Generation: How Britain has Bankrupted its Youth
- Reviewed by Charis Scott-Holm
- Published on January 18th, 2011 at 4:54p.m.
Ever the fan of a new political theory, and bored with the 'Spirit Level' debate, I came across a new talking point in politics, one which as a young person paying extortionate rent and mounting student debts I could most certainly relate to...
This theory is that the 'baby boomers' (pretty much our parents), who benefited greatly from Britain's post war economic growth and social democratic advancements, may be not only burdening the impact of economic hard times on the next generation but also selfishly not passing on any of the benefits they have encountered.
But are we not just whining about not having everything handed to us on a plate???
The authors of 'Jilted Generation' make a very convincing case to the contrary.
Split into four chapters, the book focuses on the topics of housing, jobs, inheritance and politics to build a convincing argument of the generational inequality facing those of us born after 1979 (the first people to incur student debts). Howker and Malik explain how we have been treated unfairly by the older generation through things like student debt, a lack of social housing or secure private rents and unstable jobs- all of which didn't trouble our parents.
Take the interesting statistic that in 1990 51% of home owners were under the age of 34, while today that figure has shrunk to a tiny 29%- from over a half to under a third, and that the average age of a first time buyer without the financial help of a relative is a staggeringly ancient 37 years old.
It certainly wasn't the post '79 generation who degraded the nations credit rating....
How does this affect young people today? Are we putting our lives on hold in the hope of someday owning our own home? The statistics certainly back up this theory- with the age a couple has their first child certainly increasing.
The authors suggest that this new phenomenon may be a result of a post-modern emphasis on the individual and their freedoms- with the baby boomers being the first generation to put their 'rights' before wider society and British politicians also following this philosophy, for example with free market economics.
But how can this be solved, when the condition is so entrenched?
The authors suggest the answer could well be to take the short-termism out of politics. What do you all say to that????
'Jilted Generation' is a vital book with insightful arguments and a well thought out conclusion, which draws the reader through a complex subject confusion-free. I only hope more of our generations' political leaders can take heed of this message and end purely practising politics in the present.