Over the last decade, the relative wealth of young adults compared with their parents’ generation – a measure known as ‘absolute mobility’ has declined by 20 percentage points. While in 2015, over half of 30-year-olds earned as much or more than their fathers, this had fallen to around one-third in 2017.
This shows that Millennials have been hit even harder than Generation X by the recession, although 40-year-olds were also found to be poorer than baby boomers were at the same age.
Most of this decline in absolute mobility has been driven by the “unprecedented” decline in real weekly wages of around 5% since 2008, the researchers found.
“Absolute mobility is an important marker of economic progress, and essential in evaluating the UK’s economic and social health,” the authors wrote.
“For much of history, economic growth ensured that each subsequent generation did better than the past, rendering true the saying that the rising tide will lift all boats. However, this is no longer true.
“Our paper highlights the need for serious discussion on how real wages can be boosted and, if not, on other policy options that could be implemented to reverse the trends of falling absolute mobility.”
The Institute of Employment Rights recommends the reinstatement of sectoral collective bargaining across the economy as key to providing fair pay. This proposal, which is one of 25 in our trade union and Labour Party-backed Manifesto for Labour Law, should be supported by the establishment of a Real Living Wage as a legal minimum, stronger enforcement of workers’ rights, and laws to make it easier for people to depend on trade unions.