BUSINESS

Canadian Youth Poorer Than Previous Generations: Report

03/08/2016 04:18 EST | Updated 03/08/2016 04:59 EST
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Group of young people sitting at a cafe, top view

In the view of some recent studies, Canadian millennials have never had it better.

There was a report late last year from TD Bank, which found Canadians in the under-35 crowd are twice as rich as their U.S. counterparts.

And there was the recent leak of a “secret” study from the federal Finance Department that asserted that 28-to-34-year-olds in Canada today are the richest this age group has ever been.

But a comprehensive new study from The Guardian paints a completely different picture of millennials in Canada and around the developed world.

Using data from the Luxembourg Income Database, the report found millennials in seven advanced countries, including Canada, are earning relatively less than previous generations were at their age, in what may be a modern-history first.

“It is likely to be the first time in industrialized history, save for periods of war or natural disaster, that the incomes of young adults have fallen so far when compared with the rest of society,” The Guardian reports.

The report blames the phenomenon on “a combination of debt, joblessness, globalization, demographics and rising house prices” that is “depressing the incomes and prospects of young people across the developed world.”

millennial relative incomes

This chart from The Guardian shows millennials have fallen behind in all the surveyed countries except Australia.

Since 1987, Canadian millennials’ incomes have fallen behind by about 4 per cent when compared to other Canadians' earnings. In real terms, 25-to-29-year-olds are earning some $3,744 more, adjusted for inflation, but 50-to-54-year-olds have seen earnings increase by $6,907 in that time.

Incomes in the 70-74 age group rose by $7,058, and that group is taking 16 per cent more of the income pie than it did in 1987.

"You've got so many people who are just retired, not working, and actually pretty well off," Guardian reporter Shiv Malik told CTV News. "That's never happened before."

Jealousy warning: The Guardian has put together a handy comparison calculator that lets you see how you’re doing compared to other generations, both inside Canada and globally. Millennials are advised the data is depressing.

Or read The Guardian's full coverage here.

For millennials living alone, things look even worse. This group has seen its share of the income pie fall by 6 per cent since 1987, compared to everyone else.

Sociologist Eric Klinenberg said the increase in single-person households is due to more women entering the workforce, divorce rates and — in Europe — social housing that provides low-cost apartments to singles.

the big drivers for the rise in living alone were women entering the labour market, the increase in divorce, and in Europe social housing that provided lower cost apartments for single people.

The other six countries with falling relative millennial wages are the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Australia was the lone outlier in the study, with its millennials seeing relative incomes 20 per cent higher than they were in 1987.

In some of the other countries surveyed, things look worse for millennials than they do in Canada. In the U.S., for instance, under-30s are now poorer than retired people, believed to be a first. In the U.K., the incomes of current retirees have grown three times as fast as the incomes of younger people.

Do you believe Canadian millennials are better off or worse off than previous generations? Let us know in the comments below.