There is a silent war going on in the kitchens of Britain, between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials. The generation born after 1981 is trying to deal with a simmering resentment towards their parents, not because of those things we have inherited from them -- the roman noses, thick ankles, the inability to tell left from right -- but because of the things we will not inherit, such as a free university education, affordable housing, a career for life, a pension.

There is a complaint that the youth of today are lazy and entitled. They refuse to work in jobs they deem beneath them and fritter away their twenties in a state of kidulthood. They have moved back home after university, signed on and won't countenance working in a pub because they have a media degree and believe the world owes them a career.

OK, this is true in part. But what do you expect? We are the children of the Baby Boomers, who came out of an apprenticeship or university with a choice of jobs, who could get a mortgage on an affordable property in their twenties, who could sit back and watch it multiply in value.

The Millennials are expected to be special, to be clever and go to university. As a result, we start our working lives thousands of pounds in debt and our first mortgage application at least a decade away.

Many entry-level jobs have disappeared, replaced by unpaid internships. I'm sorry we're back at home, clogging up the bathroom and adding to the laundry, but we cannot afford to rent. At least not until we start getting paid, and then we must allocate 40 per cent of our salary to the landlord, many of them Baby Boomers gobbling up the limited housing in buy-to-let schemes to fund their retirement. Each graduate position receives an average of 52 applications. In February, 1,700 people applied for eight jobs in a Costa coffee shop in Nottingham. Youth unemployment in Britain currently stands at 20.8 per cent. Some of us are lazy, maybe, but most of us are trying very hard.

Deferring the age at which we start earning and in turn can buy a house, puts off more than that study you've been waiting to convert our bedroom into. Many Millennials are getting married and having children later, often because they cannot afford to do either before 35.

My generation of young women grew up being told by their mothers that we could have it all: a stellar career, children that turn out all right, and a smoothly running household. We remain sceptical. Despite the lovely equal-opportunity rhetoric, we have watched our mothers having to choose between a career or staying at home, a choice their husbands never had to make. They have not been able to have it all. As the experience of Anne-Marie Slaughter, who recently left a senior position in the US State Department to spend more time with her children, demonstrates, this issue is nowhere near resolved. As the cost of child care continues to rise, staying in work or leaving a career will remain a big decision for my generation.

Clearly all is not rosy for the Baby Boomers either. That pension you thought safe now seems less secure. Those children you thought you had waved off for good are back and still need feeding. And that job for life is now under threat from a horde of bright and desperate computer-literate graduates prepared to work very hard for next to nothing. As a result Baby Boomers hang on to senior positions which, in a previous generation, they would have jacked in years ago.

A concrete ceiling, grey and immovable, is preventing those in their late 30s getting the promotions the previous generation enjoyed. The Millennials are stuck behind them. This is dispiriting for us, but what does it mean for future generations? Will the Millennials be supporting their offspring well into their thirties?

As a generation, we are being sat on by our parents. We are having to redefine our expectations, and simply ask that the Baby Boomers do so, too.

Agnes Frimston is assistant editor of The World Today


© Tribune Media Services, Inc., "How The Baby Boomers Have Betrayed Their Children"





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