Are today's young women in a worse position than their mothers were?


Stella Magazine, April 2015

Today's young women are beset by debt, job uncertainty and rising housing costs. Rebecca Holman asks women of different ages if they think happiness depends on the year they were born

Do we have it better or worse than those born before us? Once, the assumption was that each generation would be more successful than the last, or would at the very least manage to maintain the status quo. But thanks to the housing bubbles and recessions of recent decades, that assumption has been shaken. Depending on how old you are, friends who are five years older can seem infinitely more secure while those five years younger are struggling financially, or vice versa.

The younger generation in particular is now suffering from the effects of rising education and housing costs, but it is too simplistic to say its members “have it worse” than their parents, particularly in gender terms. After all, in 1970 a woman could still be refused a mortgage without a male guarantor. We have more opportunity now, and often we have more materially. But we have been brought up to believe that everything our parents had – and more – is our birthright, not something we may get if we work hard and are lucky. So how much does when you were born affect how happy you are with your lot?

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