Generation Y - the hidden wealth divide.

Young Americans are now poorer than retired people. That's the stunning take away from a new study by The Guardian Newspaper, and they say that the problem not unique to the United States.

According to the data, unemployment, debt, and rising home prices have cut Generation Y out of nearly all the new wealth generated in western societies. In other words, in the United States and Europe, people born between 1980 and the mid '90s are earning about 20% less than the national average.

These are young individuals and families who were already lagging behind before the crash of 2008, and their low wages haven't allowed them to catch up during the recovery.

That's why the secretary general of the OECD said, “Current working-age, middle-class groups are increasingly concerned with their and their children's job prospects.” He added, “An increasing number of people think children in their country will be worse off financially than their parents.” And, that type of intergenerational inequality only makes the overall wealth divide even worse.

As Paul Johnson of the Institute of Fiscal Studies explained, that means that young people with rich parents will have an unfair advantage over their peers in the early years of their adult life. Mr. Johnson said, “I think the real unfairness issue comes in the sense that it's become more and more important whether your parents happen to have a house.”

And, he shared the sentiment of many economists who said that policymakers must do more to close the wealth divide between young and old.

If we fail to do so, we are telling an entire generation that they don't deserve the American Dream that their parents enjoyed. And, we are damning ourselves to the economic stagnation that results when too many people are too broke to spend money in their economy.

This problem may be hitting young people the hardest, but it isn't just young people who will feel the effects. It's time to bridge the generational wealth gap and make sure that the American Dream doesn't simply disappear.


KCRuger's picture
KCRuger 8 years 14 weeks ago

You could have been a total idiot & you could still buy a 3 bedroom house until the "Reagan Democrats" elected him. Today, we have college-educated homeless people being harrassed on their "Obamaphones" by the Dept. Of Ed. Now we have Sen. Warren calling for increases in the ponzi scheme known as Social Security, to benefit the very people who have paid-for houses, while she ignores the plight of those who can't pay their rent. And you wonder why we look at both parties with similar disdain.

Of course, Reaganomics is to blame for all of it, but jeez, get your priorities straight for crying out loud. It is the educated young, who did what they were told to do, who are being screwed the most here. By, "young", I mean those who entered the job market after 1980, when the income increases generated by the GNP went exclusively to the top 1%. This was a money-grab which was just as illegal as the bribery of Congress which allowed it to occur.

c-gull's picture
c-gull 8 years 14 weeks ago

The following comment may seem off topic but I believe that the present corporate/capitalistic system was founded on the economic ideological principles that founded America.

So when I say that America was founded on the graves of Indians, the backs of slaves, the bones of bison, the skins of wild animals, and the extinction of the passenger pigeon, it is not idol banter. Exploit the resource and then move on to something else was and is the philosophy. So as resources were driven to economic extinction, what was left to exploit but the middle class and the already over exploited lower classes in America.

People need something to live for-if the prospects of the future look dim then they react in different ways. For example, I have visited Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota-the physical poverty is extreme but it is the poverty of mind and spirit that is tragic. They are perhaps the most repressed citizens in the land of the "free". They are confronted with the authoritarian rule of the tribal police, the BIA police, the FBI and the local and state authorities. Many are lucky to get one meal a day. They do not feel they have much of a chance at life in this society. Some act out, some get into gangs and drugs, and many take their own lifes. It is not an uncommon phenomena to visit a reservation and meet people one day and find that two or three days later they were killed in an auto accident or perhaps seriously injured in a fight with others on the "rez". What was supposed to be the American dream for us is certainly a nightmare for them.

So why is it that none of the presidential 'debatees' even talk about native Americans? It is as if they do not even exist. What is being hidden? How much exploitation can we take before we break?

sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 8 years 14 weeks ago

Wow... so sad... the reality of the end of growth economy.

Anything goes Fri: We all know we HAVE to vote for Hillary if... but lets not do it blindly.

Today, Amy Goodman: Before Her Assassination, Berta Cáceres Singled Out Hillary Clinton for Backing Honduran Coup

The Glenn Beck Review's picture
The Glenn Beck ... 8 years 14 weeks ago

There will be no resolution to this without President Sanders, and there will be no President Sanders unless his supporters provide him with #leverage. Have you taken the Bernie or bust pledge?

Johnnie Dorman's picture
Johnnie Dorman 8 years 14 weeks ago

Property taxes in rural areas are a big reason why people can't afford a house. Property taxes should be priced according to one's income, not whatever the city decides the rate should be.

ScottFromOz 8 years 14 weeks ago

Quote: He added, “An increasing number of people think children in their country will be worse off financially than their parents.” And, that type of intergenerational inequality only makes the overall wealth divide even worse.

It's that last sentence of that, that is the kicker ... and it's wrong. What we have is not an intergenerational divide, it is an economic divide. The ploy that the older generation "have all the wealth" is used by the 1% to keep the hoi-poloi at each others' throats and distracted from the REAL villains, the 1%. This is only one of the sophisticated tricks that the wealthy have bought from the highly skilled and remunerated PR firms to divert attention from the concentration of wealth in their hands. Another one is "The redistribution" cry whenever anyone calls for income fairness. In fact we've been having massive "redistribution" of wealth upwards sine Reagan and Thatcher.

w1ders's picture
w1ders 8 years 14 weeks ago

It is happening to all of us but sad our young are thrown under the bus. We need drastic change. Vote Bernie!!

Gary Reber's picture
Gary Reber 8 years 14 weeks ago

The Huffington Post has published my latest article entitled "Bernie Sanders Can Win By Empowering Every Child, Woman, And Man To Become A Productive Capital Asset Owner at This article addresses the wealth divide. I believe this article to be significantly timely in light than NONE of the candidates for president are raising the issue of broadening wealth-creating, income-producing capital asset wealth OWNERSHIP in speeches, interviews, press conferences, debates or political ads. This is the issue that can bolster massive support Bernie Sanders during the primaries and the general election.

ch kryloff's picture
ch kryloff 8 years 14 weeks ago

Unfortunately, this is America, and I suspect closing the wealth divide between young and old will most likely involve making sure the elderly are poorer.

halsted1917's picture
halsted1917 8 years 14 weeks ago

Could this be a major factor in milleniums coming out strongly for Bernie? Tonight I was at the Chicago Trump rally where thousands of anti-Trump protesters gathered. While those of us protesting covered all age groups, the majority were protesters under 35! The diversity protesting reflected Chicago & its kaleidoscope of people: Latinos, Asians, Muslims, Jews for Peace, Whites, Blacks et. al. Win or lose the primary, Bernie has tapped into the economic and social injustices affecting the milleniums. The Revolution has began!

RFord's picture
RFord 8 years 14 weeks ago

I can relate to what Thom's talking about from the perspective of the older retired person. My income is about $60,000 a year and I don't do anything. I'm retired. I'm 65 and my retirement savings will never run out. That's because I don't have any retirement savings or a 401K plan. I have a defined benefit retirement plan and not a defined contribution plan. When I ask young people if they know the difference between the two, they don't have a clue as to what I'm talking about. For those that don't know a defined benefit plan pays you until you die and my plan will pay my wife the same amount if I die first until she dies. You can't borrow or take money out of a defined benefit plan therefore you can't screw your self out of your retirement. A defined contribution plan is a savings for retirement plan. Internal Revenue tax code section 401 subsection K (401 K) is one of these plans and the most popular plan today. There's no guarantee a savings plan or 401K will last you until you die. You could spend it all in 5 years after you retire at age 65 but if you live to be 90, you will live for 20 years on social security alone after your 401K or savings plan has been depleted. I' m a retired union plumber. I have a cousin who's a retired TVA machinist and a brother-in-law who's a retired Teamster. Counting our social security and our defined benefit retirement plans our incomes are about the same or more than if we were still working. So, yes many of us older retired workers are doing much better than many young working people. Young people need to wake up and smell the coffee. If they don''t get a job with a union or a job with a defined benefit retirement plan they could be relativly poor their whole life or at least very poor retired people for a long time after their 401K or savings plan runs out of money. None of my grandchildren are making much money. I have a step daughter that's a nurse that makes good money but she was unemployed a while back and took money out of her 401K to help pay bills and now she has a 401K but she depleted her 401K and will probably not have enough money in it when she retires to live well and last her until she dies. I have another brother-in law who designs energy efficient climate control systems that has a 401K that he depleted a while back when he was unemployed. He told me two years ago that he will have to work until he dies because of the money he took out of his 401K. Young people don't realize that section 401K was not meant to be a retirement plan. It was meant to lower taxes on capital gains and spur business investment. If the authors of 401K in the tax code knew what they know now, they would not have put section 401 subsection K in the tax code. So, spread the word, explain the difference between these retirement plans to young people and what the consequences of only having a 401K and social security could be because no one knows how long they will live after they retire.

larrybuckp's picture
larrybuckp 8 years 14 weeks ago

I believe this wealth gap is irrelevant. Older folks enjoyed the last years of corporate civility. My retiiree income has nothing to do with todays problems. Common wisdom now beliieves that a college education is needed for nearly any job. I believe otherwise. I think skill is far more important for most jobs, and that nearly half the population has a below average intelligence. Young people are now saddled with college debt that very likely won't be of any use. In my day,, a union job was near the top of the chart of worthy goals, and anyone working in a similar job reaped the benefits of union negotioations. HR department had not yet inserted insanity into hiring practices.

The problem now is a system that doesn't recognize the need for mechanics, janitors, welders, etc., but only carreers riguiring higher education. The system does not respect employees. Greed is the main motivator, Young folks are thrown into a system that doesn't work. Shareholder primacy is patently stupid, and causes instabiltiy for employees. Lack of respect for the nintynine percent should not be reflected in our laws or attitudes.

humanitys team's picture
humanitys team 8 years 14 weeks ago

Good Points my friend .

Bernie was on Thom's radio show talking about the Native American plight .He said this is one of the first things he will address .Every Human has a right to life with dignity there are enough resources for this to be .

Decent living conditions,clean drinkable water ,health care and education are a right not a priviledge .The thought that there is not enough to go around creates our on the ground reality .We especially need to look after our Native American Brothers ,we can learn so much from their culture and then start to save our own .Their wisdom and cultural understandings are at a very high level but we have not listened and tried through the illusion of superiority and dominator lifestyle to eradicate their culture and forced them to adopt our cultural myths which is unworkable .

The culture from which we emerge is causing the demise of the culture .

Lets all get behind Bernie, the old and the young .Power is never taken its always given .Time to give the power back to we the people and decide what kind of world we want to wake up to in the not to distant future .


humanitys team's picture
humanitys team 8 years 14 weeks ago

Here's an idea that probably won't Go down so well. Mandatory retirement for everybody when they reach 55 and a living pension there on after .The overs could take part tme work or do some voluntary endeavours .Or could bring up the offspring off the young and nurture them .So the young are not burdened with looking after children when they are children themselves .In highly evolved cultures it's the elders that do the child raising as great resonsibility is placed on them .

Just an idea as in Europe some countries Spain ,Greece ,Italy ,Portugal have massive amounts of the youth unemployment. Up to 50 % of under 25s are unemployed in some of these countries with no hope of a better tomorrow .

Loren Bliss's picture
Loren Bliss 8 years 14 weeks ago

Fact: The Ruling Class aka the One Percent has been ranting about the necessity for forcibly reducing the global population (i.e. genocide) at least since the late 1950s.

Fact: Death camps, ethnic "cleansing" and other obvious forms of genocide are no longer fashionable (save perhaps amongst Donald Trump's supporters and others of the fascist/Nazi persuasion).

Fact: Hence the most effective method of genocide -- especially since under capitalism, the victims themselves can be blamed for their own deaths -- is economic downsizing.

Need I say more?

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 8 years 14 weeks ago

Halsted1917, that kind of thing seen at the Trump rally doesn't help us much. Violent means and undisciplined behavior usually hurt a cause, already the media is exploiting Friday's incident.
The protest, like the rally, was a UIC event and the students in the lead were only speaking for themselves. The blue collar worker is usually disgusted by such behavior from students and may vote for Trump just because. Intellectual elitism doesn't help either.
Students need to ring doorbells and knock on doors and to get blue collar workers with the cause not make greater noise themselves or make greater spectacles of themselves.
Most importantly, they need to listen more than speak. Abstract, theoretical knowledge doesn't hold up against worldly understanding.
Take a tip from Bernie and speak with, not at, the blue collar worker. Students don't deserve to be the workers' boss just because they've had it made. Otherwise you're replicating the very injustice you purport to be fighting - and WITHIN your movement.

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