Fact Sheet: Intergenerational Overview

Thomas Jefferson: ‘I sincerely believe… that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale.’ Letter to John Taylor, 1816

Edmund Burke wrote about the idea of the State in 1789: ‘It becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.’


  • 3.3 million adults aged 20-34 years of age are living with their parents, a rise of almost 25% since 1996. This is about 25% of young adults ONS, 2015.
  • The percentage of young adult householders owning their home decreased from 55% in 1996 to 30% in 2015 for 25 to 29 year olds; and from 68% to 46% for 30 to 34 year olds ONS, 2015.
  • Only 9% of 20 to 24 year old householders owned their homes either outright or with a mortgage or loan in 2015, down from 30% in 1996 ONS, 2015.
  • The average age of a first-time-buyer in 2014/15 was 33 years of age. English Housing Survey 2014-2015.
  • In 2013-14 Nearly half (48%) of all households aged 25-34 rented privately, up from 45% in 2012-13 and only 5% are rented by those aged 65 or over. English housing Survey 2014-15.
  • Half of all owner occupiers are under-occupying their homes, substantially higher than private renters (15%) and social renters (10%). English Housing Survey 2014-15.
  • Under-occupation is consuming almost one fifth of all the extra space added to England’s housing stock between 2001 and 2011. Intergenerational Foundation 2014.
  • In London the proportion of households in the private rented sector increased from 14% to 30% between 2003-4 and 2013-14. English Housing Survey 2014-15.
  • Nearly two thirds (61%) of outright owners in 2013-14 were aged 65 or over. English Household Survey 2014-15.
  • Over one third (36%) of households with children were renting in the private sector in 2013/14 compared to 29% in 2003-4. English Housing Survey 2014-15.
  • In 2013-14 the average (mean) rent in the private rented sector was £176 per week. English Housing Survey 2014-15.
  • From 2003-04 to 2013-14, the percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds who are owner occupiers fell from 58.6% to 35.9%. The percentage who were living in the private rented sector rose form 21.4% to 48.2%. The English Household Survey, 2013-14.
  • Between 1991 and 2009/10 the 65 to 74 age group saw a 14% increase in home ownership (from 62 to 79%) whilst those aged over 75 saw home ownership rise from 53 to 73%. Over a longer time period, this trend of growing home ownership amongst the old is even clearer. In 2008/9 75% of people aged over 65 owned their own home, up from 49% in 1981 – a 53% rise. The English Household Survey, 1981-2010.
  • 82% of non-homeowners in London aged 20-45 fear they will never be able to buy a house. Halifax, 2015.
  • Over the decades since 1969, house prices for first time buyers have increased by 48 times, far out-pacing incomes which have only grown 29 times. The average first time buyer house price of £4,136 in 1969 has grown to £198,039. By comparison, first time buyers’ incomes have grown from £1,624 in 1969 to £47,574 in 2013. While this trend is played out across England, it is most stark in London. There, house prices are 59 times higher than in 1969, while incomes are only 34 times higher Shelter, 2015.
  • If house prices had increased at the same rate as incomes (since 1969), the average first time buyer would be paying £76,873 less than they actually are Shelter, 2015.
  • From January 2005 to July 2016, average UK House prices rose from £151,000 to £217,000. For London the rise was from £232,000 to £485,000 ONS, 2016.
  • Fewer than 2% of properties in the private rented sector are now available and affordable for single young people on housing benefit. Crisis, 2014.
  • The deposit required today (£30,000) is almost ten times the deposit required in the early 1980s (£2,000-3,000), after accounting for inflation. National Housing Federation, 2014.
  • If house prices had grown in line with the stock market over the last two decades (5 per cent a year) then average house prices would be 50% cheaper, Martin Weale, Head of The National Institute of Economic and Social Research and Member of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee.
  • There are 3.3 million ‘last time buyers’ looking to downsize L&G, 2015.
  • There are 5.3 million under-occupied homes L&G, 2015.
  • Typical last time buyer lives in a 4-bed property but wants to move to a 2-bed property but there is a lack of appropriate housing and financial incentive to move L&G, 2015.


  • Since 2008 households headed by people in their 20s now spend 45% of total spending on housing costs, food, power, fuel and transport. IF, 2014.
  • One in six UK adults are living with a debt problem. This rises to one in four for 25-34 year olds Money Advice Service, 2016.
  • One in six families in the most financially distressed parts of Britain are covering the cost of essentials with payday loans or unauthorised overdrafts, or are defaulting on household bills,  Which?, 2014.
  • 723,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in May to July 2015. ONS, 2015.
  • The overall unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds is 15.6%, compared to 5.5% for the population overall ONS, 2015.
  • In 2015, there were over 1.1 million individuals aged 65+ employed – an employment rate of 10.2% which is more than double the rate in 2001 (4.9%) DWP, 2016.
  • In 1990 youth unemployment was about one third lower than the national average. Today it is about one quarter higher IF, 2016.
  • The number of people employed on “zero-hours contracts” in their main job during April to June 2016 was 903,000, representing 2.9% of all people in employment. This latest estimate is 156,000 higher than that for April to June 2015 (747,000 or 2.4% of people in employment)ONS, 2016.
  • People who report being on a “zero-hours contract” are more likely to be at the youngest end of the age range; 36% of people on “zero-hours contracts” are aged 16 to 24 (compared with 12% for all people in employment not on a “zero-hours contract”) ONS, 2016.

The Family:

  • 6 million family households don’t have enough money coming in to cover their bills – this is a rise of 750,000 since 2012. Legal & General, 2014.
  • 7 million households are trying to get by on incomes below the level needed for an ‘adequate standard of living’. Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 2014.
  • One in five parents are struggling to feed their children. 18% of people in the UK have suffered from some kind of food poverty, rising to 21% in households with children. The problem is exasperated in the 18-24 age bracket, with 44% of this age group reporting that they had experienced food poverty to some extent in the last 6 months. Trussell Trust, 2014.
  • The average age of all mothers has consistently risen from 26.4 in 1973 to 30.2 in 2014. ONS, 2015.


  • Average hospital spending for an 89 year old man is around 3 times higher than the average spend for a 70 year old and almost nine times more than someone under 50. IFS, 2015.
  • 64% of 80 year olds received hospital care in 2010/11 vs 30% of 40 year olds and just over 20% of 20 year olds. IFS, 2015.
  • Healthcare spending as a share of GDP has risen dramatically. 1970: 4%, 1980: 5.1%, 1990: 5.1%, 2000: 6.3%, 2010: 8.5%, 2015: 9.8%. The 2015 OECD average was 9.0% OECD, 2016.
  • In 2013/14 health constituted 17.9% of all public spending and 31.5% of all public service spending. IFS, 2015.
  • Two-fifths of the NHS budget is spent on over-65s Nuffield Trust in the Guardian, 2016.
  • “The current generation of pensioners and those now approaching state pension age are much better off, in terms of both income and wealth, than their predecessors – and will be among the particular beneficiaries of the recommendations.The commission therefore believes it is right for them to make a contribution towards the additional costs and proposes that:
    – free TV licences for the over-75s and Winter Fuel Payments should be restricted to the
    least affluent pensioners
    – the existing complete exemption from National Insurance for those who work past state pension age should end (with payment of National Insurance at a lower rate)
    – those aged between 40 and 65 should pay an additional 1 per cent in National Insurance, introduced to match the phasing in of the settlement.”, Commission on The Future of Health and Social Care, The Kings Fund 2014.
  •  25% of hospital beds are occupied by people with dementia, Alzheimer’s Society, 2009.

Population Ageing:

  • UK life expectancy – 1960: 70.8, 1970: 71.9, 1980: 73.2, 1990: 75.7, 2000: 77.9, 2010: 80.6, 2014: 81.4. The 2014 OECD average life expectancy was 80.6 OECD, 2016.
  • The UK now has over 500,000 people who are aged 90+, including almost 15,000 centenarians – a group whose number has risen by 72% in the last 10 years. ONS, 2015.
  • On average across OECD countries, there were slightly more than four people of working age (15-64 years) for every person 65 years and older in 2012. This rate is projected to halve from 4.2 in 2012 to 2.1 on average across OECD countries over the next 40 years. OECD, 2013.
  • The number of over 90s has tripled in the last 30 years, and the number of centenarians has gone up by over four and a half times. ONS, 2014
  • The proportion of over 75’s will increase from 7.9% in 2012 to 13% in 2037. ONS, 2014.
  • There will be over 500,000 centenarians in the UK by 2066. DWP, 2011.
  • By 2080, there could be 626,900 people in the UK aged 100 or more, 21,000 of whom will be at least 110, DWP in The Guardian, 2013.
  • 67.8% of spending on benefits was spent on pensioners in 2014/15. This is expected to increase to 19.6% by 2020/21 ONS, 2016.
  • From 2012 to 2032, the population of 65-84 years olds will increase by 39%, and the population of over 85’s will increase by 106%. In contrast, the population of 0-14 years olds will increase by 11%, and 15-64 year olds by 7%. The King’s Fund, 2013.
  • The ‘old-age dependency ratio’ (the number of people of state pension age for every 1000 people working) will increase from 314 per 1000 in 2009 to 349 per 1000 in 2032, even with the implementation of higher state pension ages. The King’s Fund, 2013.
  • There are 600,000 wealthy pensioners who qualify for the highest rates of income tax who still receive winter fuel allowance. BBC, 2013
  •  Winter Fuel Allowance cost £2.14bn in 2013/14, and free TV licences for the over-75s cost £616m. Concessionary Bus passes also cost over £1bn in England alone. DWP, 2015 and House of Commons Briefing Paper, 2015.
  • The UK will add an extra city the size of London between 2012 and 2037 consisting entirely of over-60s. ONS in IF, 2013.
  • One person will turn 65 every 41 seconds in the UK. Actuarial Post
  • The expectation is that a person in the UK could spend possibly 3 months with physical or mental disability for every year of increase in life expectancy. Other developed countries have experienced similar trends. Actuarial Post.
  • Over the last 30 years the percentage of the population aged 65 and over increased from 15% in 1984 to 18% in 2014, an increase of over 3 million people in this age group over the period ONS, 2015.
  • By 2040 there will be 10 million over-75s whilst the super-old (aged over 90) will increase by 390 per cent), Howker and Malik, The Jilted Generation, 2010.
  • Census figures reveal a particularly vigorous increase in number of over-90’s rising from 13,000 in 1911 to 430,000 in 2011. Census, 2011.
  • In 1971 over-60s made up one in five of the population, in 2030 over-60s will make up almost one third of the population, ONS, 2009
  • The cost of caring for the elderly could treble by 2050. 10% of people in OECD countries will be more than 80 years old by 2050, as longevity increases, OECD, 18 May 2011.


  • Of the £5.0 trillion pension obligations for which the UK government was responsible at end-2010, £3.8 trillion were in respect of state pensions (263 per cent of GDP). ONS, 2012.
  • Defined benefit schemes have resulted in UK private companies spending £42 billion more a year on just (the oldest) one third of pension scheme members IF, 2016.
  • By contrast, UK companies are spending only £1.8 billion a year on defined-contribution (DC) pension schemes, which goes to the younger two-thirds of pension scheme members IF, 2016.
  • If the deficit reduction contribution alone was eliminated, £35 billion would be available to: boost the DC pension pot of each younger worker by £12,000, which would be ten times more than they currently receive oro more than double the private sector’s R&D budget, making firms more innovative or increase the annual pay of the typical private sector worker by £1,600, or add 25% to total UK business investment IF, 2016.
  • There has been a 73% real terms increase in the average state pension spend per head since  1985, from £1,649 to £2,846, as the share of the UK’s population which is above state pension age has grown (despite increases in the state pension age) IF, 2016.
  • From 1992 to 2015, the cost of unfunded public sector pension liabilities per UK worker in real terms has increased from to £10,951 to £43,875 IF, 2016.


  • It is predicted that by 2030 over 65s will make up 45% of the electorate Ipsos Mori in Age UK, 2014.
  • EU referendum voter turnout by age – 18-24: 64%, 25-39%: 65%, 40-54: 66%, 55-64: 74%, 65+: 90% Guardian, 2016.
  • General Election 2015 – 18-24s almost half as likely to vote as those aged 65% (43% vs 78%; in 2010 estimated turnout for 18-24s was 44%) Ipsos Mori, 2015.
  • At the 2015 general election, the median actual voter was aged 51, four years older than the median potential voter IF, 2016.
  • By 2050, the median registered voter will be 56 years old IF, 2016.


  • Half of 17-20 year old undergraduates and two thirds of 21-24 year old undergraduates worry about covering basic costs and paying their bills, NUS, 2014.
  • A typical university student will leave university with more than £44,000 of debt. Sutton Trust, 2014.
  • Some students are being left with as little as £40 per week to live on. The Money Charity, 2014.
  • Two-thirds of undergraduates regularly worry about not having enough money to cover basic living costs. The Money Charity, 2014.
  • 50% of graduates that did not continue to postgraduate education wanted to, but did not because they were averse to taking on more debt. High Education Careers Services Unit & The University of Warwick, 2014.
  • Even if you accept a high estimate of the average lifetime graduate premium of £100,000, spread over 45 years, it only gives an annual premium of just £2,222 per year. That is simply not enough to cover the interest accruing on the average loan – bad news for young people and worse news for the Treasury as poorer students borrowing an average of £53,000 will accrue interest of £282,420.75, if their student loan is left unpaid for the full 30 years and then written off, as the current system promises IF, 2016.

For further information please contact Liz Emerson on liz@if.org.uk Mob: 07971 228823