The new generation gap

Something interesting has emerged in voting patterns on both sides of the Atlantic: Young people are voting in ways that are markedly different from their elders. A great divide appears to have opened up, based not so much on income, education, or gender as on the voters’ generation.

There are good reasons for this divide. The lives of both old and young, as they are now lived, are different. Their pasts are different, and so are their prospects.

The Cold War, for example, was over even before some were born and while others were still children. Words like socialism do not convey the meaning they once did. If socialism means creating a society where shared concerns are not given short shrift – where people care about other people and the environment in which they live – so be it…

Older upper-middle-class Americans and Europeans have had a good life. When they entered the labor force, well-compensated jobs were waiting for them. The question they asked was what they wanted to do, not how long they would have to live with their parents before they got a job that enabled them to move out…

Today, the expectations of young people, wherever they are in the income distribution, are the opposite. They face job insecurity throughout their lives. On average, many college graduates will search for months before they find a job – often only after having taken one or two unpaid internships. And they count themselves lucky, because they know that their poorer counterparts, some of whom did better in school, cannot afford to spend a year or two without income, and do not have the connections to get an internship in the first place.

Today’s young university graduates are burdened with debt – the poorer they are, the more they owe. So they do not ask what job they would like; they simply ask what job will enable them to pay their college loans, which often will burden them for 20 years or more. Likewise, buying a home is a distant dream…

In short, today’s young people view the world through the lens of intergenerational fairness. The children of the upper middle class may do well in the end, because they will inherit wealth from their parents. While they may not like this kind of dependence, they dislike even more the alternative: a “fresh start” in which the cards are stacked against their attainment of anything approaching what was once viewed as a basic middle-class lifestyle.

RTFA to see where Joe Stiglitz goes with his analysis, what and who he thinks may offer some solutions to the questions asked by today’s new generation. Whether those answers are complete or not? Whether solutions forthcoming from political formations any of us accept anymore – is a question you’ll have to answer for yourself.

4 thoughts on “The new generation gap

  1. Fresh Meat says:

    “Is your business speaking Gen Z’s language?” “a new generation is entering the marketplace: Generation Z, which encompasses people born in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Heralded as the first true digital natives and raised during times of uncertainty marked by events like 9/11 and the Great Recession, Gen Z is unmistakably distinct from millennials in behaviors, beliefs, goals, and consumption habits.
    According to EY’s Marcie Merriman, author of the recent report “Rise of Gen Z: new challenges for retailers”, Gen Z is almost uniformly tech-savvy and content-hungry, and tend to be pragmatic, entrepreneurial, socially conscious and highly tolerant. “They represent a major opportunity for businesses attuned to what they want and how to deliver it,” she says. For media and entertainment companies, which are often the first commercial entities encountered by a young generation, the question is whether these businesses are ready to speak the language of this rising class?
    The key to understanding Gen Z lies in data, and as it happens, this group does not have the same hang-ups as previous generations about sharing personal information. Gen Z’s near-constant engagement with smartphones, social media, and entertainment innovations like Apple TV and Roku means that we know much more about the when, where, how, and why of content consumption than ever before. But it would be a mistake to concentrate solely on technology-centric solutions to capturing this market. Both data and technology are merely the means to the end of connecting to Gen Z on their terms: through intense customer focus, storytelling, and interactive experiences.”

    • Roomba says:

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    • 2rad4mom&dad says:

      Re: cissexist heteropatriarchy. The prefix “cis-” is the opposite of “trans-” and thus “cissexist” means not only discrimination against women, but also against “transgender” persons. Likewise, the familiar feminist denunciation of “patriarchy” (i.e., the social system of male supremacy) has been updated with the prefix “hetero-” to imply that homosexuals in particular are oppressed by such a system. These linguistic modifications have the effect of allowing men to abjure their identification with “male privilege” either by declaring their homosexuality or “transgender” status, and thereby including themselves among the oppressed members of the LGBT coalition.

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