March 11, 2014 4:08 pm

Are millenials worse off than their boomer parents? Survey says…

Bleaker economic prospects among younger workers was one factor feeding the Occupy movement in the United States.

Getty Images

Yes, according to many of their own parents.

A smoldering debate whether so-called millenials – those between 20 to 30 years old – face a lower quality of life than their boomer parents did has received some fresh input from the left-leaning Broadbent Institute.

Story continues below

The Ottawa-based think tank published a report Tuesday that shows a pointed sense of unease about the economic future faced by young Canadian workers among both age cohorts.

“What it shows is that young people and their parents think the economic prospects for the young are worse than they were for the previous generation,” Rick Smith, executive director, said in an interview.

“This is a new phenomenon: the notion that people now expect their children to do worse than they did.”

Virtually half (49 per cent) of boomers surveyed said they expect their kids to have a lower quality of life than they had, compared to 56 per cent of 20-somethings who envisioned no opportunity to improve their lot relative to their parents.

An overwhelming 92 per cent of boomers said they know someone with a company pension, and a majority know many.

In contrast, less than a third of millenials said they knew more than one person with a pension. A fifth knew no one with such a work benefit.

Slippery employment slope

On the employment front, responses underscored a shift among companies from permanent, full-time jobs to a greater reliance on contract and part-time work.

Forty one per cent of millenials said they expect their working lives to consist of a mix of permanent and contract jobs, while the vast majority envisioned moving through a series of companies and jobs until retirement.

That contrasts with a meagre 10 per cent of boomers who reported their work experience as being made up of the same less stable mix. Most (66 per cent) reported working one or more permanent jobs during their careers.

“Millennials think they face a future of precarious work and expect the income gap to grow over their working life,” the report said.

The institute asked 983 working Canadians aged 20 to 30 and 1,064 people aged 50-65 who have at least one child aged 20 or older.

“The conclusions about the scale of the problem are the same” among both millennials and their boomer parents, Smith said.

“Most people say it’s worse [than a generation ago], so we wanted to kick start a conversation,” Smith said.

© Shaw Media, 2014

Report an error