Labour Research March 2017

Equality news

Older people not to blame for plight of youth

There is insufficient evidence to suggest that older people’s pensions are weighing on the wages or pension benefits of young workers, a new TUC briefing on intergenerational inequality says.

Talkin’ ‘bout my generation, published to coincide with the TUC’s annual pensions conference last month, says it is changes to the labour market — rather than pensions for older workers — that have placed young people at the sharp end of falling pay, rising insecurity and poor retirement provision. 

And it says declining union density has contributed to the problem: there are currently 3.5 million young workers on low or average pay and just 9.3% are trade union members, compared to 24.7% of all UK employees. 

It also cites findings by the London School of Economics showing that real wages for those aged 22-30 fell by 16% between 2008 and 2014, compared to 10% for all workers. 

The report warns that pitting generations against each other is unhelpful and divisive and risks the wider characteristics and causes of inequality being overlooked.

It calls on ministers to ensure increased pension provision for everyone — rather than focusing on the distribution of an inadequate pool of retirement savings between different generations.

TUC assistant general secretary Paul Nowak said: “We must focus on the wider causes of inequality to improve pensions across the board.”