Rising costs make fundamental requirements “aspirational” for young people.
In recent years, the cost of living has increased significantly across many countries, making it harder for young people to afford basic necessities such as housing, food, education and health care.
These fundamental requirements, which were once considered normal and attainable for most people, have now become “aspirational” goals that require sacrifices, compromises and trade-offs.
According to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the average income of young adults aged 18-34 has declined by 10% since 2008, while the average income of older adults has risen by 3%. This means that young people have less purchasing power and face greater difficulties in saving and investing for their future.
Moreover, the cost of housing has skyrocketed in many urban areas, making it almost impossible for young people to buy or rent a decent home. The OECD report found that the average house price-to-income ratio for young adults has increased by 39% since 2008, while the average rent-to-income ratio has increased by 22%. As a result, many young people are forced to live with their parents, share accommodation with roommates or move to cheaper but less desirable locations.
Another major challenge for young people is the cost of education, which has risen faster than inflation in many countries. The OECD report estimated that the average tuition fee for tertiary education has increased by 76% since 2008, while the average student debt has increased by 44%.
This means that young people have to take on more debt to pursue higher education, which may limit their career choices and financial security later in life.
Finally, the cost of health care is also a source of concern for many young people, especially in countries where public health systems are underfunded or inaccessible. The OECD report noted that the average out-of-pocket health expenditure for young adults has increased by 25% since 2008, while the average public health expenditure per capita has decreased by 2%. This means that young people have to pay more for their own health care, which may affect their physical and mental well-being.
These rising costs have significant implications for the quality of life and opportunities of young people. They may reduce their ability to achieve their personal and professional goals, to participate in social and civic activities, to form stable and satisfying relationships and to contribute to the economic and social development of their communities.
They may also increase their vulnerability to poverty, inequality and social exclusion.
Therefore, it is imperative that policymakers and stakeholders take action to address these challenges and ensure that young people have access to affordable and adequate housing, education and health care. These are not luxury items or optional preferences; they are fundamental requirements for human dignity and well-being. They should not be “aspirational” for young people; they should be realistic and achievable.