Introduction

From housing and employment prospects to differing values and political views – our age is often portrayed as defined by a growing generational divide. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted further intergenerational differences, with the elderly considered more at risk healthwise and millennials, financially. Even before the pandemic, the media has often reinforced age-related stereotypes – on one side, baby boomers who got the best of the post-war economic boom, in the process getting richer and more conservative politically, and millennials, technology savvy and individualistic, political ‘snowflakes’, experiencing an adulthood of precarious employment and housing.

What does data tell us about these apparent generational inequalities and what are the implications for society? Have we really never had it so good? Could things be about to change as the world reluctantly concedes to the “new normal”? The event will address current debates about how COVID-19 has exacerbated generational divides and exposed inequalities in mental health and wellbeing, housing, employment, access to green space and other areas.

About the event

The Rt Hon Lord David Willetts FRS is the President of the Resolution Foundation and chaired their Intergenerational Commission. He served as the Member of Parliament for Havant (1992-2015), as Minister for Universities and Science (2010-2014) and previously worked at HM Treasury and the No.10 Policy Unit. Last year he published a second edition of his book The Pinch How the Baby Boomers took their children’\s future - and why they should give it back. He is a member of the Board of UKRI.

Jennie Bristow is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Canterbury Christ Church University, an Associate of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, and a writer and commentator on the ‘generation wars’. Her recent books include: The Corona Generation: Coming of age in a crisis (with Emma Gilland, Zero Books 2020); Generational Encounters with Higher Education: The Academic–Student Relationship and the University Experience (with Sarah Cant and Anwesa Chatterjee, Bristol University Press 2020); Stop Mugging Grandma: The ‘generation wars’ and why Boomer blaming won’t solve anything (Yale University Press 2019); and The Sociology of Generations: New directions and challenges (Palgrave Macmillan 2016).

Angus Hanton is a Co-founder of the Intergenerational Foundation (www.if.org.uk), a vehemently independent and non-party-political think tank that focuses on intergenerational fairness in the UK. A self-confessed baby boomer and economist, Hanton believes that successive governments have unwittingly overseen the transfer of assets, benefits and resources to older generations, whilst passing increasingly unsustainable liabilities to younger and future people.

David Sturrock is a Senior Research Economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. His recent work has looked at the savings and wealth holdings of different generations and the impact of inheritances on inequality. David is currently undertaking a multi-year project investigating the impact of rising house prices on inequalities across and within generations and the role of wealth transfers in social mobility. Previously, David was a policy advisor and economist at HM Treasury, working on fiscal policy, spending strategy and the economics of Scottish independence. David holds a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and an MPhil in Economics, both from the University of Oxford and is currently undertaking a PhD in economics at University College London.

Dr. Tracey Skillington is Director of the BA (Sociology) in the Department of Sociology & Criminology, University College Cork. She is the author of two monographs on global climate change, Climate Justice and Human Rights (2017, Palgrave) and Climate Change and Intergenerational Justice (2019, Routledge), exploring the justice dimensions of largescale ecological destruction. She is currently a partner in an EU Horizon funded project on Arctic justice and sustainable development (JUSTNORTH, 2020-23). On the issue of data, her research points to the invaluable contribution of data to understanding the nature and extent of the ecological risks we face. Especially, the way data on environmental changes point to the necessity of action and adopting a more long-term perspective on natural resource management. 

Dr. Florian Hertel studies the causes and effects of social inequality in postindustrial societies. Specifically, he is interested in understanding what drives social mobility trends and international variation in intergenerational mobility. He currently works with the Department of Socioeconomics at the University of Hamburg and was visiting Professor of Sociology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Florian published his work in the American Sociological Review,  Social Forces and Research in Stratification and Social Mobility. Last summer, his recent work on social mobility and inequality was awarded the RC28’s Significant Scholarship Award.

Chaired by writer and broadcaster Timandra Harkness. Timandra presents BBC Radio 4 series, FutureProofing and has presented the documentaries, Data, Data Everywhere, Personality Politics & The Singularity.

Data Debates is a collaboration between The Alan Turing Institute and the British Library and aims to stimulate discussion on issues surrounding big data, its potential uses, and its implications for society.

Join the conversation #TheDataDebates

Speakers

Tracey Skillington

Director of the BA (Sociology) in the Department of Sociology & Criminology, University College Cork