Generational differences are sometimes considered one of the fault lines in Britain today, with the predicament of Millennials much discussed as a societal and political challenge.

Examination of research data from TGI confirms that the position of today’s 20-34 year-olds is indeed worse in important ways than that of their equivalents of 30 years ago.  Furthermore it allows us to understand the scale of the challenge in informed and comparative terms.

Today just 36% of Millennials (defined as being aged 20-34) own their own home – be it outright or with a mortgage.  In 1987 fully 64% of 20-34s did.  Increases in the costs of purchasing property have had the very significant effect that 55% are renting their homes compared to 33% of 20-34s in 1987.

Source: Kantar Media TGI

The make-up of households among 20-34s has changed a lot too.  The two-person household no longer represents the majority – down from 69% in 1987 to 48% in 2017.  The proportion of single-person households has doubled from 8% to 17%; at the same time 35% of today’s Millennials are sharing costs by living in households of three or more.

Source: Kantar Media TGI

Source: Kantar Media TGI

Around the same proportion of 20-34s are working – 68% now compared to 66% in 1987 – but with 18% today in part-time work as against 9% in 1987.

And yet today’s 20-34s seem as content with their current situation as other groups.  Even though only 16.6% definitely agree that “I am very happy with my life as it is”, this level exactly matches the proportion of the overall adult population who say the same.  This is a higher percentage than the 14.4% of today’s 50-64s who agree – and this ‘baby boomer’ cohort were the 20-34s of 1987.

Source: Kantar Media TGI 2017

But other matters give more cause for concern.  16% of 20-34s definitely agree that “I worry a lot about myself”.  This compares to just under 10% of adults overall and 6.5% of 50-64s.

Source: Kantar Media TGI 2017

Source: Kantar Media TGI 2017

We might interpret this as Millennials expressing concern for their future outlook.  Allied with the trend in home ownership, it makes clear the size of the challenge for policy-makers.  Marketers too are operating in a context in which a key target audience has major concerns about what the future may hold for them.  How might they respond to this?

Research is vital for businesses taking decisions that have long-term implications.  Longitudinal analysis of data such as TGI, including the historical data held within the Archive for Market and Social Research (AMSR), can allow decision-makers to track and assess the impact of their actions.