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    CPC Director launches House of Lords Select Committee report on tackling intergenerational unfairness

    CPC Director, Professor Jane Falkingham OBE, was in London today (25 April) to chair a seminar launching the House of Lords Select Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision report on ‘Tackling intergenerational unfairness’.

    Professor Falkingham has been the specialist adviser to the Committee since it was appointed on 9 May 2018. The Committee’s broad remit has been “to consider the long-term implications of government policy on intergenerational fairness and provision”, considering written and oral evidence from witnesses in a range of sectors including government, academia, business, media and charity. These included CPC members Professor Athina Vlachantoni and Professor Elspeth Graham.

    The launch event at the British Academy has brought together members of the Committee as well as experts and report witnesses to talk about the findings of the report, and take part in a panel discussion with attendees. Introduced and chaired by Professor Falkingham, speakers included:

    The Lord True CBE, Chair of the Committee
    Professor Sarah Harper CBE, Professor of Gerontology at the University of Oxford, a Fellow at University College and the Founding Director of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing.
    Lewis Addlington-Lee, Deputy Chair, British Youth Council
    The Rt Hon. The Lord David Willetts, Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation

    Echoing the ongoing work of the ESRC Centre for Population Change and our ‘Exchange between the generations’ research strand, the report makes recommendations for how governments can start to tackle the increasing ‘unfairness’ opening up between generations in the UK: there is a perception that young people have fewer opportunities and economic benefits than previous generations. At the same time, society is ageing, and people are working longer and retiring later.

    The Committee has reached conclusions covering six main areas:

    1) Lack of political will has meant that data is not collected and published on generational differences in income wealth, or differing effects of policy on different generations.
    2) The failure of successive governments to ensure a sufficient supply of affordable housing has meant that many younger people struggle to secure affordable housing.
    3) We are living longer, which means we will work for longer. All generations will need support in learning throughout their life and adapting to a rapidly changing labour market.
    4) Younger generations are facing a labour market characterised by weak pay progression and insecurity. As people lead longer working lives, initiatives such as flexible working, mid-life career reviews and programmes to tackle ageism will become important.
    5) Active communities have a key role to play in meeting generational challenges.
    6) Changes are necessary to the current tax and benefit system, to rebalance generational fairness.

    Alongside this report, within CPC our researchers have been examining support across the generations, investigating how parents and children care for each other and how younger and older people live together.

    Professor Falkingham comments: “I am delighted to have been a specialist adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision over the last year, bringing to light vital research findings and working towards a solution that will allow governments to plan policies that benefit all generations, both now and in the future. I hope that the publication of the Committee’s report today will ensure that we continue to examine how different generations live together or apart, and the social, financial and housing dimensions of these decisions. The policy implications of the report need to be considered across all government and planning bodies to strengthen intergenerational ties and improve wellbeing across generations.”

    To find out more about the findings and recommendations of the report, view the summary and video or read the full report ‘Tackling intergenerational unfairness’. You can also follow updates on Twitter House of Lords Select Committee on Intergenerational Fairness and Provision on Twitter #LordsIFPReport and @LordsIntergen

    To discover more about the latest CPC research on intergenerational relations, please see the excerpt below and links to further reading from our latest CPC newsletter:

    Relations between the young and old

    What's housing got to do with it?

    Research from Albert Sabater, Elspeth Graham and Nissa Finney shows that the probability of an older adult (65 and over) sharing the same neighbourhood with a younger adult (aged 25-44) has declined over time, with evidence of higher residential age segregation as housing affordability decreases across each neighbourhood in England and Wales.

    Drawing on population data from the 2001 and 2011 Censuses, information on key housing characteristics as well as house price and income data for small areas in England and Wales, their research has been investigating the relationship between housing (dis)advantage and residential age segregation.

    Speaking on the findings, Dr Sabater says: “In the UK, housing debates have almost entirely ignored residential age segregation as one of the potential consequences of the ongoing housing affordability crisis. Our findings indicate that neighbourhoods with lower levels of affordable housing are more likely to be residentially segregated by age. Such a trend can result in undesired consequences, especially if it continues. For instance: the inability of many young people to access desired housing can impact other aspects of life, such as starting a family and employment opportunities. Also, increasing residential separation by age implies reduced inter-generational interaction that could threaten social cohesion, so further research is of paramount importance.”

    Indeed, the homeownership vs renting debate has far-reaching effects. Working with colleagues from the University of Florence, Ann Berrington and Agnese Vitali have been examining whether the move away from homeownership in the UK is affecting people’s decisions to become parents.

    It is usually presumed that people are more likely to become parents after they become home owners. However, couples’ preferences to become homeowners before having their first child have been undermined by the dramatic changes in the UK housing market over recent decades. In Britain in particular, homeownership rates have fallen dramatically among young adults as a result of low wages, precarious employment, reductions in the availability of mortgage credit, lack of affordable homes, and rising house prices.

    Using data from the British Household Panel Survey and the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Survey the research team have found that, in comparison to the 1990s, people are now more likely to be entering parenthood while living in insecure private rented accommodation.

    CPC researchers have also been examining how major life events such as entering into a relationship, separation and divorce affect our living arrangements.

    Previous research shows that separated individuals move from homeownership to (private) renting and experience a period of instability in their living arrangements. However, little is known about whether and when separated individuals will become homeowners again. Hill Kulu and Julia Mikolai have been investigating what happens after divorce and separation, studying homeownership levels among separated individuals in Britain using data from the British Household Panel Survey.

    Professor Kulu comments: “Our findings support the view that separation can have long-term effects on people’s housing status. Our results have shown that people who have separated are much less likely to own a home than those who are married or living together unmarried. Interestingly, homeownership levels increase over time since separation; however, the levels increase among people who form a new relationship, whereas homeownership rates remain low among those who remain separated.”

    They are also investigating how house moves and changes in partnership status evolve and interact in individuals’ lives. The findings, combining data from the British Household Panel Survey and the Understanding Society study, show that people are more likely to move during the first year of a relationship, or following separation. Separated and cohabiting individuals are most likely to move to private renting, whereas married people are more likely to move to homeownership. Most people now move to start a cohabiting relationship rather than because of getting married.

    What about those in mid-life?

    Maria Evandrou, Jane Falkingham, Madelín Gómez-León and Athina Vlachantoni have been examining those considered to be in the middle of the younger and older generations, the so-called ‘sandwich generation’.

    The research team have analysed the 1958 National Child Development Study to examine how mid-life men and women distribute their time dedicated to support their elderly parents and their own adult children through providing grandchild care.

    Professor Vlachantoni comments: “Our early findings indicate that around one third of those in mid-life are ‘at risk’ of having to provide care to multiple generations of their families, and about half have to provide some care to both grandchildren and elderly parents at the same time. With the large generation of baby-boomers entering mid- and later life and an increasing number of families spreading across three or four generations, figuring out ways to support individuals who care for multiple generations will need to be a policy priority.”

    Alongside this work, a collaborative project bringing together colleagues from Scotland and Southampton is helping to develop a better understanding of the scale and nature of unpaid caring activities, how these interact with other paid and unpaid activities such as work and leisure, and how patterns of time use may be changing as society changes.

    Led by Alison Bowes from the University of Stirling, Maria Evandrou, David Bell, Alison Dawson, Jane Falkingham, Athina Vlachantoni, Nadine Thomas, Alasdair Rutherford and Rosalie Ashworth are working to inform better ways of collecting survey data on unpaid care that will inform policy and capacity planning, such as the design of the Scottish Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

    “Closely informed by the views and experiences of unpaid carers themselves, we are investigating the dynamics of unpaid care for older people by collecting and analysing time-use data and by developing improved methods of understanding the nature of unpaid care in survey research.” Says Professor Bowes. “This will in turn inform policies which can effectively support the provision of unpaid care, helping to counteract current demographic changes which may reduce it.”

    Older people’s well-being

    Demonstrating the complexity of intergenerational relations, Athina Vlachantoni, Jane Falkingham, Maria Evandrou and Min Qin have been investigating the negative impacts on parents’ health when adult sons leave home in India and China. India and China are both undergoing unprecedented urbanisation, with increasing numbers of younger people and adults moving into cities, leaving behind their older parents in rural areas. Both India and China have a patrilineal culture which emphasises a son’s duty to support his parents, however it is also men who are most likely to migrate, leaving parents without this support.

    The research demonstrates that having a migrant son in India and China is linked to older parents’ poorer health status. They have found that in China there is a strong association between digestive diseases among parents and having a migrant son. In India, parental hypertension, diabetes and heart disease were found to be strongly associated with having a migrant son.

    In another study, Yazhen Yang, Maria Evandrou and Athina Vlachantoni have found that changes to Chinese culture as a result of this rapid modernisation are exerting pressure between the generations in terms of financial and social support.

    Professor Evandrou says: “Our studies demonstrate the complex nature of intergenerational relations, for example where a culture change which sees it become more common for adult sons to leave home can have a large impact on the health of their parents left behind. It is vital that we continue to study the effects of how different generations live, or indeed don’t live, together, how they interact and what the social, financial and health costs are. The policy implications of such findings need to be taken into account at the national, regional and local level to strengthen intergenerational ties and to improve older, as well as younger people’s well-being.

    Further reading:

    (Un)Affordable Housing and the residential separation of age groups (CPC Briefing Paper 45)

    The spatialities of ageing: Evidencing increasing spatial polarisation between older and younger adults in England and Wales (Demographic Research)

    Divorce, Separation, and Housing Changes: A Multiprocess Analysis of Longitudinal Data from England and Wales (Demography)

    Tackling chronic disease among ‘left-behind’ older people in India and China (CPC Briefing Paper 42)

    Children’s migration and lifestylerelated chronic disease among older parents ‘left behind’ in India (SSMPopulation Health)

    Informal caring in mid-life and its economic consequences (CPC Briefing Paper 46)

    Intergenerational flows of support between parents and adult children in Britain (Ageing & Society)

    Time for care: exploring time use by carers of older people (Ageing & Society)

    For further information, enquiries and comment, in the first instance please contact: cpc@southampton.ac.uk 02380 592 579

    Posted 25/04/2019 12:21