Nearly half of all 16 to 25-year-olds in the UK fear they will never earn enough to support a family amid the cost-of-living crisis and looming recession, a youth charity’s report reveals.
The Prince’s Trust said the age group’s happiness and confidence is at its lowest level since it started the research 14 years ago.
Releasing its 2023 youth index on Monday, the charity said young people are most unhappy about their money and mental health.
The report reveals 57% of young people said the cost-of-living crisis is their biggest worry for the future, while 34% said the coming recession is their greatest concern.
Some 46% overall said economic uncertainty makes them feel hopeless about the future, rising to 55% for those from poorer backgrounds.
The data is from an online YouGov poll of 2,025 16 to 25-year-olds in the UK, carried out between November 22 and December 7.
Young people’s happiness and confidence with money is now lower than when polling began in 2008 during the global financial crisis, the charity said.
While 35% agreed that thinking about money depresses or stresses them, this rose to 39% when those from less affluent backgrounds were asked.
The Prince’s Trust’s UK chief executive Jonathan Townsend said: “Having already lived through one of the most turbulent times to be young, this year’s Prince’s Trust NatWest Youth Index is a warning sign that, post-pandemic, young people’s wellbeing has not recovered.
“It reveals that for this generation – the class of Covid – economic uncertainty is having a profound impact on their wellbeing and confidence in achieving their aspirations in the future.
“Most concerningly, the report also suggests that these challenges are hitting young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds hardest, with those who received free school meals or who are unemployed reporting consistently worse wellbeing in all aspects of life.”
NatWest Group chief executive of Alison Rose added: “This report provides a stark warning about the debilitating impact of economic pressures on young people’s lives, and emphasises the importance of providing the tools and support necessary to build their financial capability and confidence.”
Some 64% of respondents said their biggest goal in life is achieving financial security, while 43% chose good mental health and 36% picked having a family.
Some 70% said having a job that gives them financial stability is good for their mental health, while 59% said being employed at all was good for their mental wellbeing.
However, 47% were worried about the impact of a recession on their job security, rising to 52% of those from poorer backgrounds.
The research also reveals that 70% of young people feel determined to achieve their goals in life.
And 63% said they can overcome the challenges they face but need practical support to fulfil their potential, with 64% agreeing they can overcome hurdles, but need help to build their confidence and skills.
Mr Townsend added: “Young people remain determined to achieve their goals but they require practical support to do so.
“Employers, Government, charities and individuals must work together to provide a lifeline for those who need us most.”
The Prince’s Trust helps tens of thousands of young people each year to “build the confidence and skills they need to realise their potential”.