What should a COVID-19 recovery look like for young people around the world? 

IF will be celebrating 10 years of working to protect the interests of younger and future generations in policy-making in 2021. But this year has been like no other as countries around the world reel from the damage the COVID-19 pandemic wrought on economies and people’s health. That is why this year’s annual Worldwide Blog Week focuses on what kinds of recoveries need to take place in order to improve the prospects of younger generations around the world as nations emerge from the pandemic. Liz Emerson, IF Co-founder, introduces the week, which includes contributions from the US, Canada, India, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, the EU, and of course the UK.


Who would have thought that 10 years on from IF’s establishment nations would be facing shattered economies due to a global pandemic? A pandemic that has treated generations differently – while older generations have suffered the most in health terms, younger generations have suffered the most economically. It is therefore vitally important for their future prospects that young people’s interests are central to post-COVID recovery discussions. 

We are delighted to be able to bring together international experts, academics, charities, think tanks, professional organisations and activists from all sides of the political divide, in order to discuss and debate how countries should support younger generations as we emerge from the pandemic.

Although countries may differ economically, culturally, religiously and geographically, similar themes flow through the week. These include: lost education, increasing anxiety and mental ill-health among the young, ageing populations, high government debt, falling gross domestic product (GDP), falling tax revenues, and higher welfare spending, with the future prospects of younger generations diminished while also likely burdened by higher taxation for decades to come.

Give children and young people hope

We must give children and young people across the world hope that things will get better. We must send a message to governments around the world that they need to: refocus on the needs of tomorrow, over the needs for today; that they have an obligation to demonstrate to young people that they are valued; and that they reward younger generations for all they have given up in order to protect the health of their elders.

That means: investing in lost education catch-up; investing in the prevention of mental ill-health; investing in training and work experience; ensuring that jobs are fairly paid and secure; providing affordable housing; with equitable levels of taxation levied across the generations; all of which will help young people to set a path towards the same decent living standard in old age as enjoyed by generations before; all while reducing our impact on the environment by addressing the climate crisis.

And this can be done. We just have to look at the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act in Wales and Lord Bird’s drive to bring a similar bill to fruition. Our champions are there but they need our support. 

Global economic scarring

This year’s Australian Intergenerational Report suggests that their economy will be older, smaller, and more in debt over the next 40 years thanks to COVID-19 spending. As Think Forward explains in its article, while Australia may have been a “lucky country” in terms of COVID-19 deaths, younger generations have borne the brunt of job losses and lost income.

And the story remains the same for many other countries around the world, including the UK and Germany, both of which have so far borrowed around £400 billion to fund COVID-19 support. As we emerge from the pandemic, IF believes that it must not be young people who bear a disproportionate and inequitable intergenerational taxation burden in repaying this debt. 

We hope that you enjoy the different contributions in our worldwide blog week and encourage you to take part in the debate via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Here is a line-up of what to expect over the coming week:

  • Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography of the School of Geography and the Environment of the University of Oxford, argues that younger generations should not believe the promise of future GDP growth and should demand a fairer share of spending and less generational debt. 
  • Charlotte Rainer, CYMPHC Coalition Lead argues that the vision of the UK’s Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition (CYPMHC) is for all infants, children and young people to grow up in a society that prioritises and attends to their mental health and wellbeing, and after a year of living through the Covid-19 pandemic, this vision must be prioritised by policy-makers.
  • Tan Suee Chiech, Immediate Past-President, of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, explains how young people globally could become a “lost generation” unless policy shifts towards prioritising the long term. 
  • Jörg Tremmel, Co-founder of Germany’s Foundation for the Rights of Future Generations, calls for a three-phased approach: suspend Germany’s debt break, speed up the transition to a zero carbon economy and embrace vaccinations.
  • Andrew Dixon of UK taxation campaign group, Fairer Share, argues that changes to how we tax property would reduce intergenerational unfairness.
  • Aarthi Ratman, a mental health campaigner in India, explains why India’s poor performance on the understanding of, and investment in, child mental ill health must change post-COVID-19.
  • Chris Wongsosaputro and Matthew Oulton, Co-Secretaries of the UK’s Young Fabians Economy and Finance Network, argue in separate articles that the economic recovery should focus on job security for young people, providing affordable and sustainable housing, both to rent and buy, reforming the triple lock on the state pension and a move towards the taxation of assets over income.
  • María José Campero Rauld and Antonia Rosati Bustamante, community psychologists and mental health researchers in Chile, outline the state of mental health in Chile before and throughout the COVID–19 crisis and call for better mental health interventions.
  • Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, lays out the success of the welsh strategy, and offers it as a template for incorporating long-term thinking into present day decision-making in countries around the world. 
  • Claire Dale, Research Fellow at the University of Auckland Business School, explains how New Zealand young people, and specifically children, have so far been let down by COVID-19 recovery policies.
  • Paul Kershaw of Canada’s Generation Squeeze, which advocates for younger generations, explains how Canada’s pension spending, like that of the UK, rests on government dishonesty about how much debt older generations are passing on to generations to come.  
  • Annelise Riles, Associate Provost for Global Affairs, Executive Director of the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs at Northwestern University and leader of the secretariat of the U7+ Alliance at Northwestern, argues that US universities are uniquely placed to better prepare the next generation to not only become experts in their fields of study, but also to successfully work across different sectors and adapt to new circumstances.
  • Think Forward, the Australian lobby group for younger and future generations argue that economic reform, and intergenerational thinking is required to rebuild all that younger generations have lost from this pandemic.
  • Caitie Gillett of the Conservative Environmental Network calls for UN pledges to be met and for the transition to a greener economy to benefit young people.

Help us to be able to do more

Now that you’ve reached the end of the article, we want to thank you for being interested in IF’s work standing up for younger and future generations. We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved so far. And with your help we can do much more, so please consider helping to make IF more sustainable. You can do so by following this link: Donate