Life is harder for young people – and their parents agree

Life is harder for young people now than it was for the previous generation, new research has revealed. A detailed study found a large percentage of under 30s believe life is tougher now than it was for their parents – and they’re suffering as a result.

The study showed than an overwhelming 68% of all those questioned believe today’s generation are forced to endure more hardship than young people 40 years ago.

The modern generation also proved a lot more stressed day to day, with 50% of the over 50s admitting their average week as a twenty-something rarely saw them get stressed – just 5% of today’s youngsters were able to say their usual week is worry-free.

In fact, 41% of the younger generation experience regular or constant stress (compared to just 15% 40 years ago).

Stress isn’t the only issue – the older generation rated their looks and body shapes at a seven on average, whereas today’s group could only average a 5.

The study of 4,000 adults was commissioned by health retailer Holland & Barrett, marking the launch of their ‘Good Life’ report, which charts the values of today’s average 20-30 year olds against those of the baby boomer generation.

Lysa Hardy, Chief Marketing Officer for Holland and Barrett, said:

“We commissioned the Good Life report to better understand what the challenges and pressures really are for today’s younger generation.

“In a world where we’re constantly rushing around and connected 24/7, we found people now have to make more of a concerted effort to keep fit and eat healthy, often fitting it around their busy lifestyle at the expense of having fun and seeing friends and family.”

Despite the consumer revolution in personal technology and comparatively bigger salaries, today’s younger generation believe they face a more significant range of threats to happiness and contentment.

Money worries, being overworked and concerns about their body image were the most prevalent concerns for today’s youth -while longer working hours, a lack of job security, a flat housing market and the rising cost of living also emerged as factors which the previous generation didn’t have to cope with.

As a result, today’s average twenty-something was also twice as likely to want to ‘make a lot of money quickly’ than the older generation did when they were that age.

Both generations also prioritised finding a partner and having a long term relationship when in their twenties, although today’s youth were much more image conscious and likely to prioritise having a healthy body and keeping fit.

There’s an increasing trend to having a baby later in life, with aged 29 the preferred time for the current generation (versus age 27 forty years ago).

While attitudes to marriage have severely declined in modern times- less than half the number of today’s current youth think it important, compared to the 54% of over 50s, who placed faith in it when in their twenties.

People had better relationships with the neighbours also in years gone by – one in four over fifties hold fond memories of visiting  a neighbour’s home and being on very good terms with the people next door, while just 7% of todays’ twenty-somethings can claim the same thing. This can make things much harder for young people having fewer people on whom to rely when it comes to favours.

Surprisingly, alcohol consumption remains fairly similar but naturally people were far heavier smokers in the older generation – just a fifth of the modern generation smoked compared to over half of people forty years ago. The average smoker back then smoked 15 a day, while those today get through 9.

Lysa Hardy, for Holland and Barrett, added:

“The common view is young people live for today – yet the report shows quite the opposite.

“Today’s younger generation are looking ahead, investing in their health, saving, and making smart choices about healthy eating and exercise.”

Dr Catherine Hakim, from the London School of Economics who helped analyse The ‘Good Life’ report, said:

“These results are often surprising, and reveal that young men and women in their 20s are planning for the future, investing time and effort in maintaining health and fitness, and fretting over their finances – rather than the hedonists living for the day.

“Perhaps this is a response to the current tough economic climate.

“Young men and women are also vastly more materialistic than were their parents’ generation. Having money has become a life goal in itself, as a high standard of living becomes taken for granted.”

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