Friday, August 5, 2016

Generation Less: How Australia is Cheating the Young, by Jennifer Rayner

Staff review by Chris Saliba

Jennifer Rayner presents alarming statistics that clearly demonstrate how today's younger generation are disadvantaged compared to previous generations.

Jennifer Rayner is a Labor Party staffer and writer. Generation Less examines the entrenched economic disadvantage experienced by Australia's young. The age group that the book concentrates on is the 18-30 year old bracket: those in tertiary education through to graduates armed with degrees working in precarious jobs and trying to get a foothold in the property market.

The statistics say it all in this very accessible work. On all economic indicators young people trying to get ahead are far worse off than previous generations. They're going backwards in terms of earnings, they carry huge amounts of debt (including HECS) and out-of-control property prices make home ownership more and more unlikely. With such grim prospects, it's little wonder that “generation less” also experience many mental health problems. The future is uncertain and full of anxiety.

The only way to even up this intergenerational inequality, according to Rayner, is through government policy. She urges young people to be politically engaged and demand intervention. She even makes a strong point for joining a union: employees protected by unions get better pay and conditions.

Generation Less makes for urgent reading. The social consequences of such inequality are unsustainable in a healthy democracy.

Generation Less: How Australia is Cheating the Young, by Jennifer Rayner. Published by Redback. ISBN: 9781863958127  RRP: $22.99

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