Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The New Young Fogeys

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The New Young Fogeys

Article excerpt

Every generation likes to bemoan the excesses and irresponsibility of the young. This should stop. The youth of today--the "new young fogeys", as we call them--are the best-behaved generation since the social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s. Hard work has, it seems, replaced hedonism. In an era of 9,000 [pounds sterling] university tuition fees and insecurity in the workplace, caused by a combination of the financial crash, competition from overseas workers and the rise of new technologies, many young people do not have the time or inclination to indulge as their parents once did.

Twenty-two years after Oasis sang, "All I need are cigarettes and alcohol," the young are abandoning both, perhaps in preference for a flat white coffee. Over a quarter of those aged 16-24 in Britain today are teetotal, according to the Office for National Statistics; just 29 per cent drink heavily in an average week, compared to 44 per cent a decade ago. Only 23 per cent of those under 25 smoke, a 10 per cent decrease since 2001. Drug use among the under-25s has also fallen by more than a quarter in the past decade. Teenage pregnancy is at its lowest since records began in 1969; sexually transmitted infections, rising among older generations, have declined among the under-25s in the past five years.

Moreover, young people are more tolerant than previous generations. Racism is on the retreat: while almost half of those born before 1950 oppose marriage between black and white people, only 14 per cent of those born since 1980 share similar prejudices. …

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