Tue. Sep 26th, 2023
    The Sandwich Generation in the UK Struggling with Sickness and Financial Burden

    The Bank of England’s former chief economist, Andy Haldane, has highlighted the challenges faced by the “sandwich generation” in the UK. This demographic, mainly those aged between 35 and 50, are being burdened with the financial and non-financial costs of supporting both younger and older individuals. Haldane points out that the increase in long-term sickness, particularly after the pandemic, is intensifying the pressure on this generation.

    The rise in sickness is resulting in higher taxes and increased caring responsibilities for individuals in this age group. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that the UK’s workforce participation rate has not fully recovered since the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 2.6 million Britons currently out of work due to long-term sickness. The percentage of economically inactive people, those neither employed nor seeking employment, has increased from 25.2% to 29.6%.

    Haldane emphasizes the impact of the education system on the mental health of young people. He suggests that the failure of the education system to provide adequate prospects for jobs and lifestyles contributes to mental health issues. He calls for greater investment in areas such as education, infrastructure, and healthcare to prevent the negative consequences of short-term thinking.

    The long-term implications of mental health conditions on young people unable to enter or sustain employment are a significant concern. Haldane highlights the persistence of health and inactivity problems and the increased likelihood of facing lifelong challenges when one experiences ill health or unemployment at an early age.

    The pandemic has also seen a surge in early retirement, adding to the country’s economic inactivity. The government aims to encourage early retirees to return to work and address job market shortages. Haldane suggests that the UK should view its aging population as an opportunity rather than a threat, recognizing the potential for continued productivity and economic growth from an active and healthy older population.

    In addition to discussing the challenges faced by the sandwich generation and the implications for the economy, Haldane raises concerns about rising interest rates. He suggests that borrowers may face higher borrowing costs as interest rates are unlikely to return to the historically low levels seen in the past 15 years. Instead, interest rates are expected to settle at a level closer to the current rates.

    In conclusion, the sandwich generation in the UK is grappling with the financial strain of supporting both younger and older individuals, alongside the challenges posed by rising long-term sickness. It is crucial for the government to invest in education, infrastructure, and healthcare to alleviate these pressures. Additionally, policymakers must consider how to support individuals affected by mental health conditions and reassess the aging population as an opportunity for economic growth.

    – The Telegraph: Britain’s sandwich generation is footing the bill for economic inactivity among old and young
    – NHS data
    – Office for National Statistics (ONS)