The concept of ‘entitlement’ has become a baton to be passed between the generations. It’s always been common for figures of senior generations to look down their noses at the younger ones and tell them how easy they have it, how they don’t know that they’re born, and launch into a spiel about how “back in their day” everything was much more difficult. But it really kicked up a gear for Millennials, who couldn’t seem to move for being told that their appreciation of avocados and want for a more affordable housing market was arrogant – and it doesn’t seem like Generation Z (roughly, those born after 1998) are going to escape those accusations either.
But are millennials and Gen Z entitled? Is that actually fair?
I suppose for an answer you have to look at what we mean by ‘entitled’. For some, it’s the idea that many millennials are unhappy in the hand they’ve been dealt – particularly when it comes to money and housing. If you think about your parents it’s likely that when they reached their mid-to-late twenties they had their eyes set on the housing ladder, and that taking the first step onto it wasn’t that much of a rarity. A report released at the end of last year by the Resolution Foundation found that today’s families headed by 30-year-olds are only half as likely to own their home as their parents were at the same age.
When you look at it that way, it’s no wonder young people are questioning why it is that things have changed so much when it comes to home ownership. Because unless they’re still living at home with Mum and Dad, as many do, it’s likely they’re part of a cohort who are putting around half their wage each month into the pocket of a landlord.
"University has been sold to young people as the best way to get into the world of work. You’re told by school, your parents and employers that if you work hard to get a top degree, you’ll be rewarded when it comes to employment."
It must be difficult, I imagine, if you were part of the generation who took only three years to save for a deposit, to see young people throwing their money at private rental housing if you can’t understand that for many getting on the property ladder is a pipe dream. But that same generation are also the ones who likely attended university for free. Tuition fees didn’t even exist until the late 90s, while attending university in England now will cost you up to £9k a year – and that’s before you factor in things like accommodation and living costs.
It doesn’t help that university has been sold to young people as the best way to get into the world of work. You’re told by school, your parents and employers that if you work hard to get a top degree, you’ll be rewarded when it comes to employment. However, a study by the ONS found that a large proportion of recent graduates in 2015 were more likely to be working in non-graduate roles, meaning the education that graduates had paid so much for, and worked so hard for, was not translating that well into getting them a relevant job.
So, entitled? Demanding? Take into account the fact that you’re probably not working in the job that you wanted to after putting yourself into not inconsiderable debt, you’re most likely living in an incredible expensive privately rented house share, and wages are lagging behind inflation so increasing your living costs, and you’d probably find yourself a little ticked off too.
Lastly, something I think is widely over- and underrated when it comes to millennials and Gen Z is the I-word. The internet. These generations grew up with it. They’re fluent in social media and haven’t really known life without being able to tap any question into a search engine and have an answer pronto.
Tie all these things together – great expectations from your elders (with a side serving of scorn), an increasingly expensive world with little money heading back at you and devices that serve instant gratification and knowledge – and I think it’s too complicated to say whether or not millennials and Gen Z are too entitled. Perhaps they’re just being let down by a world that’s promised them a lot and has yet to offer up the goods.