Older generations, concerned about younger family members who are struggling financially, could be motivated in the next General Election to support policies to help out the young, according to research today [13 Sept].
The research, from the Nuffield Politics Research Centre in collaboration with the Resolution Foundation shows, for the first time, that having younger family members struggling financially is a key motivation for older adults to embrace policies which offer support to young adults, such as free vocational education and childcare, as well as more affordable housing in their local area.
Having younger family members struggling financially is a key motivation for older adults to embrace policies which offer support to young adults, according to the research
The researchers call this group ‘Family Fortunes Voters’, and it is estimated to represent 17% of the electorate (people aged 40+ with younger relatives struggling financially).
This in-depth inter-generationally focused political survey highlights the feelings and concerns of more than 6,000 adults.* Respondents were asked about living standards both current and future, financial security, the financial situation of family members, and their support for different political parties and policies.
With a majority of the under 40s believing they will have a worse living standard over their lifetimes than that of their parents, a majority of over 40s recognise the young are worse-off financially and support policies aimed at young adults, even at the cost of higher taxes.
Family Fortunes Voters are a substantial ‘hidden electorate’ who look set to reward parties that improve the living standards of their loved ones, and reject those which do not
Dr Zack Grant
Dr Zack Grant, Nuffield Politics Research Centre study author, says, ‘Middle-aged and older adults, who are worried about their younger relatives’ finances – ’Family Fortunes Voters’ – make up almost 1-in-6 of the electorate, yet they have not been identified before.
‘Understanding this group goes some way to challenging common views about political conflict between the generations. Family Fortunes Voters are a substantial ‘hidden electorate’ who look set to reward parties that improve the living standards of their loved ones, and reject those which do not.’
Professor Jane Green, co-author and Director of the Centre, adds, ‘Our findings should act as a warning to the Conservatives. A failure to raise the average level of wellbeing among younger adults may not just harm the party among Millennials and Generation Z: it might also cost them votes from their parents and grandparents.
‘Through a combination of family connection, concern and heightened awareness for younger family members’ economic experiences, substantial proportions of the older generation are aware of the economic disparities being felt across generations and are motivated to support policies that do something about them.’
Our findings should act as a warning to the Conservatives. A failure to raise the average level of wellbeing among younger adults may not just harm the party among Millennials and Generation Z: it might also cost them votes
Professor Jane Green
Sophie Hale, Principal Economist at the Resolution Foundation, said, ‘Fairness between generations is a hot topic, as younger generations struggle with insecurity at work and at home, along with decades of low pay growth and high housing costs.
‘Resolution Foundation research has highlighted these issues, and how they’ve been exacerbated by the pandemic and recent cost of living crisis. They will loom large in the minds of younger voters.
‘That doesn't mean they don't matter to older people, though. Many have concerns about struggling younger family members, and are keen to see policies that will help them become financially secure. This intergenerational solidarity should put more pressure on politicians to address these issues.’
This intergenerational solidarity should put more pressure on politicians to address these issues
According to the team, today’s findings should be considered in the context of the UK’s ageing population and suggest voters in their 50s, 60s – and older - while becoming an increasingly large part of the electorate, will not only be satisfied with ever-greater investment in their own age group. They care about outcomes further down the life cycle too.
Report findings also reveal:
- 65% of over 60s support increased spending on more free vocational education, 61% support more local affordable housing, and 47% support more free childcare. 40-59 year-olds are similarly enthusiastic.
- Policies aimed at young adults are more popular among those with struggling younger relatives than those without, sometimes by a 10 point+ margin.
- Over 60s, with financially struggling younger family members, are 13 percentage points less likely to support the Conservatives, and 9 percentage points more likely to support Labour, than the average person of their age. For those in their 40s and 50s these gaps are 7 percentage points and 5 percentage points respectively.
- Almost one in three aged 40+ think they will need to provide significant financial or practical support to younger family members within the next decade: another major incentive for them to support state investment in the young
* Original survey “Intergenpol-GB” of 6,021 adults aged 18 and over, fielded in August 2022.
See the full report here: https://politicscentre.nuffield.ox.ac.uk/research/family-matters/.