Behind the numbers: Why Generation Y is so broke

Article published on March 14, 2016
Article published on March 14, 2016

Society has never been short of words to describe today's generation of "lost", "forgotten" or "disenchanted" young people. We now have a single statistic that describes the difficulties faced by the youth of today: in some of the world's richest countries, they earn 20% below the national average.

Take 30 seconds to try out a small experiment. If you start typing, "Generation Y are..." into Google, the search engine will offer you the following suggestions: "idiots", "lazy", "selfish". This algorithm is just a small glimpse of the fact that the 18-35 generation are subject to their fair share of stereotyping.

In trying to bust the myth, young adults and people interested in their problems have often used catchphrases and epithets to describe the conditions they find themselves in. This time it's a statistic that has come to symbolise their predicament. According to a study published in the Guardian, Generation Y earn 20% less than the national average in the world's richest Western countries. The study analysed data from 8 countries (Australia, United KingdomCanadaFranceItalyGermanySpain and the United States) from the world's largest database on household income, the Luxembourg Income Study.

30 years ago, young people typically earned more than the national average. The Guardian writes that the fall in wages was caused by a string of factors, such as unemployment, the effects of globalisation on jobs, demographic imbalances and rising house prices. These factors ultimately shed light on the crises of our modern society and demonstrate that young people are suffering a little more than others. Now we can be certain of it.

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This article is part of our Behind the Numbers series, illustrating newsworthy stats with artistic design and a brief analysis.