Byline: ANDREW GLOVER
THE youth of today have a long and arduous road ahead of them. Life expectancy is rising in line with medical progress but their overall outlook remains more than a little gloomy. While those born in the 1990s may live longer, they will also face a fight for a job and could be left to grapple with a pile of student debt before working well into their sixties, and possibly beyond, to fund their retirement. They could be excused if they rued their luck. Their parents - the last of the baby boomers born in the early 1960s - certainly seemed to get a fairer deal in the generation game.
A new report by Pricewaterhouse-Coopers (PwC) comparing the wealth of the baby boomers with the so-called "bas by busters" - people born in the early 1990s - reveals the stark differences in the economic fortunes of the two groups born just 30 years apart.
The research, which looked at earnings potential, property ownership, pension forecasts and living standards, concluded that baby busters may end up 25% worse off than their parents' generation by the time they reach the age of 65.
The report - which plots the hypothetical lives of two doctors, one born in the 1960s, the other in the 1990s - says some baby busters will be left with student debt of pounds 90,000 once interest charges are taken into account.
John Hawksworth, PwC chief economist and co-author of the report, makes clear the differences in wealth could be even wider for those with less well-remunerated careers than NHS doctors. The boomers, the report says, received windfalls from house price spikes, privatisations and demutualisations, and are now in line to retire on relatively generous pensions. But they are leaving something of an unfavourable legacy.
Continued "The baby busters will 32 have to support a much larger retired population of baby boomers, who may, on average, live for around 20 years after retirement," the report says. "Moreover, the houses that made the baby boomers wealthy are unaffordable for many baby busters, weighed down as they are by much higher levels of student debt and less readily-available mortgages in the aftermath of the credit crunch." BEING able to fly the nest and buy a home of their own will be increasingly difficult for the baby busters, the report says, suggesting that baby busters will only be able to buy their first house aged 35. Richard Podd, director of PwC in the North East, thinks those in their late teens may have to adjust their life expectations somewhat.
"There is no doubt that times are changing for the next generation," he said. "Getting a foot on the housing ladder is a distant dream for many, and is set to become even more so for the baby busters born in the early 1990s, who face leaving university with significant debt. "Even with a well-paid job, the reality of life ahead is that paying down the debt will make saving for a deposit so difficult that it will be almost impossible for them to think about buying a property for many years, if not decades. They may be a generation who rent for much longer than they expect. "Growing up in a baby boomer home will have raised their expectations of the standard of property they should be living in. "They won't be satisfied with renting second-class property and will need good-quality housing stock. …