This article originally appeared on VICE US
For years, millennials have been derided as lazy, narcissistic leaches whose spoiled upbringing has left them ungrateful for the world of technological wonders they've been born into. But a new Guardian investigation into data about incomes in Western countries has found that young people have reason to complain—in seven wealthy nations in particular, they're statistically destined to end up worse off financially than their parents. In the US, young people are now poorer than retirees.
The Guardian reported that even as the incomes of young people in countries like the US, Canada, Australia, and France have declined, the fortunes of older people have increased. "It is likely to be the first time in industrialised 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," according to the Guardian.
The newspaper mentions debt, joblessness, and the rising cost of housing as among the problems causing the phenomenon. It's also worth noting that the in the seven countries, the growth in incomes for people in their 20s has been well below the national averages for three decades—meaning this can't simply be blamed on the financial crash of 2008.
Long story short: This is likely to be an economic disaster that is showing no signs of abating.
It's hard to tell how this will affect society as millennials age into the time of life when previous generations have bought houses and acquired wealth. But anecdotally, it's obvious that the kids aren't all right and they know it. If this Guardian report doesn't make you more sympathetic to kids who've fled to Berlin to dodge student debt, it at least explains why half of your Facebook news feed is made up of memes for Bernie Sanders.
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