COVID heightens intergenerational issues

One effect of the pandemic has been to divide segments of the population, whether by age, where they live or what they do for a living. When divisions occur, tensions can develop, not least between the generations.

There is now rising concern about the economic impact of the pandemic upon Generation Z. A summary of youth unemployment statistics published in October revealed, ‘581,000 young people aged 16-24 were unemployed in June-August 2020, an increase of 35,000 from the previous quarter and an increase of 87,000 from the year before.’

Students stranded in halls of residence whilst learning online may feel more resentful over tuition fees and worsening job prospects. Many young people are also worried about whether they will ever leave the rental sector, as saving for the deposit for a home can be difficult while paying rent.

The Intergenerational Foundation (IF) says, ‘Younger generations are under pressure like never before. IF was established to draw policy-makers’ attention to this, and to get a fairer deal for young people. It concentrates on policies in housing, health and higher education, employment, taxation, pensions, voting, transport and environmental degradation.’

Empathy is the power of connection

COVID has brought added worries for elderly people, too. One concern has been poor access to banking services and cash, with branch and ATM numbers declining due to lower usage. As Age UK puts it, ‘We are hurtling towards a cashless society with no real consideration for the many people who will be left behind.’

Many older people recognise the challenges that upcoming generations face; often they do something about it by helping grandchildren at important life stages, if concern about funding their own future care allows. Those unable to assist hope government will support key elements of young adult lives – a challenge when national finances have been battered by the pandemic.

It’s about family

Although the pandemic has certainly heightened intergenerational issues, it has also highlighted health, social, emotional and financial vulnerabilities – and impacted every generation. Plenty of people have reflected on the balance in their lives and the importance of feeling connected. It’s reminded us that it’s good to talk and not to be afraid to start a conversation.

Although generational divides exist, we’re in this together and although we’ve had to endure time apart, in a strange way it’s brought us all together.

If you are in a position where you want to engage your family with a conversation about finances, we understand your apprehension because money can sometimes be a contentious issue. ‘Wealth transfer’ is such an abstract term for such an emotional topic, but we can help break down those barriers and get your family talking in a positive and productive way.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated.