young-200Young People and Generational Change

Programme leaders: Colin Hay and Craig Berry

Since its inception, SPERI has been deeply interested in questions of distributive justice. The fate of young people is central to this mission, given that, for the first time in a very long time, today’s younger cohorts are set to be poorer across their life course than their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. The 2008 economic crisis and the growth model malfunctions exposed by the crisis are intimately bound up with the circumstances faced by young people today. This new programme of research therefore focuses on particular behaviour, experiences and perspectives of young people. A number of specific strands of research being developed by SPERI researchers will consider young people and the broader issue of generational change, including analysis of different cohorts’ housing market and labour market strategies, attitudes to debt, inheritance and retirement, and the ways young people are being affected by transformations such as environmental change and economic crisis. We are also beginning to think about the generational dimension of the reproduction of the capitalist system itself, and the concept of the betrayal of the intergenerational contract that has existed since at least the Second World War – namely, that each generation would be better off than the previous one.

Recent and forthcoming publications:

Ongoing projects:

  • Colin Hay is working with a group of scholars (including Stephen Farrall, Emily Gray and Maria Grasso at the University of Sheffield) seeking to differentiate between age, period and cohort effects in political and economic attitudes.
  • Colin is also working (again with Stephen Farrall) on the long-term consequences and legacies of Thatcherism on social, political and economic values in Britain.
  • Craig Berry is developing a project with Colin Hay, Jason Heyes and Rowland Atkinson on how economic behaviour and attitudes in Britain (particularly in relation to debt, housing and employment) have shifted as a result of the 2008 financial crisis, focusing on differential impacts across different cohorts.
  • Craig’s work on UK pensions provision is advancing his inquiry into the generational nature of wealth production and reproduction in capitalist economies.