Intergenerational inequality in Ireland

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A number of week’s ago I published an article about the high rent prices in Ireland and how it was becoming nearly impossible for a young person to save for a house while renting. However, despite the facts and figures being real, a portion of the article was my own opinion. The feeling of exasperation and hopelessness I hold is shared with a number of my peers and this week the Irish Economic and Social Research Institute gave us the news we always knew but dreaded hearing. We actually are worse off than our parents. The generation who is being affected by the “still-lingering” effects of the 2008 financial crash, will continue living a lesser life than those of the Celtic tiger era if wages are not increased or rents lowered, the new report states.

The Covid 19 pandemic has affected every resident of Ireland differently, however, ERSI’s intergenerational inequality report shows that those who’s lives were most disturbed by the pandemic are the young, aged 15-34. For example, at the end of 2020 there were 93,000 less people aged 35+ in employment, compared to that of 112,000 less people aged 15-34 in employment. The impact of the pandemic on the employment of young people can be understood when we analyse the types of employment a lot of young people were in pre-pandemic.

Photo by Emil Kalibradov on Unsplash

“This disproportionate impact of job losses on young workers is in part because they
are more likely to work in retail, hospitality, arts or leisure: sectors which have been
most heavily affected by the public health measures necessary to suppress the
spread of COVID-19.”

Byrne et al., 2020. Poverty, income inequality and living standards in Ireland.

Information gathered from the Central Statistic Office

It can be clearly seen through the above graph that the younger generations of Ireland are being affected at a much higher rate of unemployment than that of their older peers. However, it is not just the recent pandemic that has decreased the standard of living for the youth of Ireland. According to the ERSI, stagnant or decreasing wages and increasing rent prices over the last number of years has crippled the futures of the new adults of Ireland.

Earnings have also stagnated for young adults entering the labour market in recent years, with workers in their early 20s earning less in the 2010s than they did in the 1990s or 2000s (adjusted for inflation),” – ESRI 2021.

Ireland is beginning to reopen again and despite the joy we feel being able to socialise and be with our family and friends, a large number of young people have find themselves lost and angry. A year without work has stopped us saving for our futures, stopped us progressing up the career ladder and it has made us realise just how little our government seems to care. As the ERSI explain, without policies enforced to ensure “high-quality active labour market programmes”, and more affordable rent prices those aged 15-35, the ones who will have to clean up the mess of the reigning government, will leave. Or perhaps an even worse fate, they will stop caring about the country that forgot about them.

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