I recently read a January 2011 housing survey prepared for Barratt Homes by ComRes, an independent polling firm. The survey results showed that for prospective UK house buyers under the age of forty, more than a third thought it unfair that those over forty had accumulated so much wealth from owning their house, because of rising house prices.
In the survey, more than 60% of those aged under forty agreed or strongly agreed that when thinking about buying a new home, they could not afford to buy one as big as the one their parents lived in when they were the same age.
Just resentment is always wise to note and wiser still to act on. For a variety of reasons, wealth distribution is uneven. Regardless of age group. Economic cycles hit some cohorts of mortgage applicants and university graduates harder than others and none of us individually controls the timing of those cycles. Nevertheless, those over forty owe it to younger generations to help them forward. Just as our parent’s generation helped us progress. After all, it is the younger generations that will carry forward our culture and civilisation.
So what can we do to help? Charity begins at home, as the saying goes. Providing shelter, advice and other assistance to our kids is a good start. They can still develop their independence and identity without necessarily leaving home early. Helping them keep a close blood connection for longer when their other group identities such as employer, personal relationships and non work interests keep changing is no bad thing either.
Our generation talking less about ‘the good old days’ might dampen their fires of resentment. After all, there is much that is positive to embrace in current culture, medical advances and technological change.
Leading by example in celebrating our local community is another idea. Should we really expect the ‘Big Society’ in whatever eventual form it takes, to be led by those under forty?
Charity fundraising by the generation over forty is great. Perhaps however, some of it needs to benefit our local communities. These are the ones our kids will now live in for longer, thanks to the unaffordability of new housing.
To help solve the problems of global warming, pollution, famine, disease, civil war, racial and religious conflict, cyber crime, terrorism, conflicting media values, corruption and loss of faith in many of today’s institutions, new generations will need all the over forties’ wisdom, expertise and advice they can get and then some. There really isn’t an us and them. We’re in the lifeboat together.