How the generations are inter-twined
In 2012 we commissioned our ‘35 Cubed’ research, which showed that much has changed in the 35 years since 1977 and, at the household level, the inter-generational contract has become much more complex.
Polling undertaken by ComRes for the report found that this generation of 35–44 year olds have very similar views to their parents’ generation, for examples:
- thinking that the best age to leave home permanently is 23
- the best age to move in with a partner is 27
- the best age to have a baby is 29 and the best age to retire is 62.
The polling also showed that:
- 35–44 year olds have had seven jobs so far in their career.
- Half of 35–44 year olds have received financial assistance from another member of their family.
- To feel comfortable and safe, they would need just under £100,000 in the bank.
- A life changing amount of money for 35–44 year olds is £2.3 million, the highest of any age group.
- 35–44 year olds would like their household retirement income to be £40,000.
The research threw up a number of questions for our business and the financial service sector, including consideration of product and services design, which we’ve outlined below.
- Whether 25 years is the right length for a mortgage. As we live and work longer, but buy properties later in life, do mortgages need to adapt to keep pace?
- Whether there is an ISA-equivalent for protection. How can people protect themselves financially, as for some protection may make more sense than saving?
- And, how financial services companies can help people to manage a retirement process that could last a decade. Can more be done to move retirement timescale expectations nearer to reality, as today’s 35 year olds currently expect the same retirement as their parents?
The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, author of ‘The Pinch’ and Minister of State at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills was present at the launch of our research.
Our third sector partners also commented on this work.
“Our ageing population is already having a profound effect on the lives of us all. Policy-makers must wake up and ensure services and attitudes change to reflect changing demographics. The report dispels the myth that older people are a financial burden; younger people are more likely to receive financial help from their family than older people, 73% of whom have never benefited from such help themselves. This mirrors Anchor’s own research, which shows that 16% of grandparents in four-generation families expect to pay for their grandchildren’s education and 20% of them expect to pay towards the care of their elderly parents. More work needs to be done by the government, care and financial sectors so younger people can look forward to a happy old age.”
Anchor’s chief executive Jane Ashcroft
“This is yet another example of how the younger generation are seeing their housing aspirations slip away from them. Many who are desperate to get on the housing ladder but cannot even afford to rent are putting their lives on hold, with more than a fifth of 18–34 year olds still living at home with their parents and many couples delaying having children. We can no longer ignore the unacceptable impact our housing crisis is having on all aspects of people’s lives. The government needs to show this generation they will meet them halfway when it comes to finding a place to call home.”
Roger Harding, head of policy, Research and Public Affairs at Shelter
“EAC (Elderly Accommodation Counsel) welcomes the timely publication by Legal & General of 35 Cubed. The report captures the significant social, economic and familial changes that have overtaken us and shaped our circumstances over the last 35 years. It brings home to policymakers and public alike the social and fiscal complexity of a privatised ‘intergenerational contract’ on which individuals, families and the state are more than ever dependent to meet the needs, fulfill the aspirations and sustain the wellbeing of family members throughout their lives. This journey through the evolving social and political arrangements of the last 35 years reminds us that each generation must invest and plan ahead to meet the needs of their ‘future selves’.
It shows that private initiatives to provide for older age and, in turn, the part played by older people in contributing social and economic ‘capital’ to support younger family members, are now a characteristic feature of our mixed economy of welfare. As the state retreats from the intergenerational contract, by design and through a natural erosion of its role, so the family must and largely has filled the vacuum. This, as Legal & General shows, is where we are now creating and sustaining mutual solutions between the generations. For childcare, employment, education, housing, financial support and for care in older age Legal & General is also to be applauded for taking its findings into the workplace. It is exploring with its own workforce how the demands placed upon the ’sandwich generation’ and the necessities of this evolving social contract affects them both as family members and as employees.”