Young adults see mental health and job prospects plummet during pandemic


Britain’s youngest adults and newest pensioners are facing the toughest economic and mental hardship in dealing with the coronavirus, a think tank has warned.

The Intergenerational Audit, produced by the Resolution Foundation with the Nuffield Foundation has warned that the job loss risk faced by those about to leave or just joining the labour market are the most severe.

It also warns that they are reporting the most difficulty dealing with their mental health during the crisis.

The proportion of adults experiencing poor mental health has increased by 80 per cent among 18-29-year olds during the pandemic, compared to 2017-2019, and by 68 per cent among those aged 65-79.

A similar U-shaped pattern emerges when looking at the impact of the crisis on people’s jobs.

Over half of those aged 18-24 and 65+ who were employed before the pandemic have since stopped working – either by being furloughed or by losing their jobs altogether – compared to fewer than a third of those aged 30-50.

Pensioners are also struggling with the toll it is taking on their mental health

But while the jobs crisis has affected young and old alike, the report shows that the impact of the crisis on people’s living conditions has fallen most heavily on young people.

Around one-in-seven people under the age of 30 have missed a rent or mortgage since the pandemic began, compared to just one-in-thirty 60-69s.

Young people aged 16-24 have also experienced lockdown living in housing with half as much space as those aged 65+, 26 square meters per person, compared to 50, with greater risks of damp, no garden access – and now eviction.

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David Willetts, President of the Resolution Foundation, said: “The pandemic has already cost tens of thousands of lives, millions of people their livelihoods, and upended everyone’s daily lives.

“As hopes of a V-shaped recovery fade, our analysis reveals the reality is more of a U-shaped crisis, with young adults and young pensioners most likely to have stopped work or suffered mental health problems.

“For younger generations, this crisis has created wider problems.

“The growth of the high-cost, low-security private rental sector has led to missed housing payments and cramped living spaces during lockdown.

“It has also reinforced the underlying trends for younger people to have less wealth than young people did a generation ago, while increases in the value of houses and pensions particularly benefit older generations.”

Alex Beer, Welfare Programme Head at the Nuffield Foundation said: “While all generations are at risk of the social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, this timely audit shows that alongside direct consequences on the mortality of those over the age of 45, younger and older workers are bearing the brunt of job insecurity and risks to their economic and wider well-being.  

“It also highlights significant variation in experiences of the pandemic within age groups, including in the psychological well-being of renters and homeowners, and the lack of access to outside space for children from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.  

“As the crisis continues, this research suggests that it is crucial for the government to not only support incomes but to also take a broader approach to building resilience and improving living standards.

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“Access to housing, skills training and mental health support will also be crucial for those most at risk of the adverse effects of the pandemic.





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