UK must close ‘alarming’ wellbeing gap between old and young, says charity

Posted: 9th November 2023

Politicians need to do more to close the gap between young and old after a landmark study revealed “alarming” differences in wellbeing, a charity has said.

A survey of almost 7,000 people for Carnegie UK found people aged over 55 consistently reported better standards of living than younger generations.

The Life in the UK survey also found widespread levels of disillusionment with politics, with 73% feeling they cannot influence decisions that affect the whole of the UK and 56% saying they cannot influence local decisions.

Sarah Davidson, chief executive of Carnegie UK, said: “Our new Life in the UK index highlights an alarming gap between the life experience of young and old in our country.

“The detailed research shows that if you’re a person under the age of 55 in the UK, you’re more likely to find yourself in economically precarious circumstances and to feel as though you’ve no-one to rely upon in your neighbourhood. Younger age groups report poorer air quality and a lack of local green space, and these citizens are more likely to be politically disaffected.

The index shows the perilous state of UK democracy

Sarah Davidson, Carnegie UK

“UK decision-makers need to work harder to close the wellbeing gap between young and old. While that means looking at tax and welfare policies, we must also look at new ways of hardwiring younger people’s interests and priorities into our public policy.”

The gap between young and old has become more significant in British politics in recent years, particularly relating to housing as younger people find it increasingly difficult to buy their own home or even secure stable accommodation.

The Life in the UK survey asked a range of questions on economic, social, environmental and democratic topics to come up with an overall “wellbeing score” out of 100.

While the national average was 62, the over-55s scored 65 while those aged 16-34 scored 59 and those aged 35-54 scored 60.

Ms Davidson noted that the overall scores were brought down considerably by poor scores on “democratic wellbeing”, with even older generations saying they felt disconnected.

She said: “The index shows the perilous state of UK democracy, with only a fraction of the population feeling that they can influence decisions that affect them.

“This lack of trust has a corrosive effect on society, as without a strong relationship between the state and the citizen it becomes difficult to develop public policy which meets people’s needs.

“That’s why we believe that all spheres of government should roll out initiatives like citizens’ juries and meaningful participatory budgeting to restore trust and increase transparency.”

The figures are based on a survey of 6,941 UK adults between May 18 and 24, conducted in association with pollster Ipsos UK.

Source: UK must close ‘alarming’ wellbeing gap between old and young, says charity (

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