Low pay and lack of work in today’s Britain are resulting in “suspended adulthood”, with many living or moving back in with their parents and putting off having children, according to the poll of thousands of 18 to 30-year-olds.
Large numbers describe themselves as worn down (42%), lacking self-confidence (47%) and feeling worried about the future (51%).
The Young Women’s Trust, the charity that commissioned the polling by Populus Data Solutions, warned that Britain was facing a “generation of young people in crisis” as it called on the government to take steps including creating a minister with responsibility for overall youth policy.
Young women are being particularly affected. The percentage of women reporting that they lacked self-confidence was 54%, compared with 39% of young men.
While four in 10 young people said they felt worn down, the percentage for young women was 46% compared with 38% of men. One in three said they were worried about their mental health, including 38% of young women and 29% of young men.
Dr Carole Easton, the chief executive of Young Women’s Trust, which supports and represents women aged 16 to 30 struggling to live on low or no pay in England and Wales, said it was distressing that so many young people were struggling at a time of life traditionally characterised by youthful confidence.
“Make no mistake about it, we’re talking about a generation of young people in crisis. And while life is hard for many young people, our survey shows it’s likely to be considerably tougher if you are a young woman,” she said.
“It’s not in any of our interests to write off an entire generation. Much more needs to be done to improve young people’s prospects, including through creating a minister for young people, extending the National Living Wage to under 25s, delivering on government commitments to improve housing options for young people and tackling workplace discrimination.”
Of 4,000 18 to 30 year-olds, the No Country for Young Women study found that 43% of those polled still live at home and a quarter had to move back in with their parents because they couldn’t afford to live independently. As much as 56% of them said they would consider moving abroad for work.
The charity is also calling for a commitment from government to move towards extending the National Living Wage to under 25s and a greater focus, including through JobCentre Plus, on supporting young adults – especially young women.
By Ben Quinn