This article is a response to a New Statesman piece by Sarah Manavis. It relates to the housing situation in the United Kingdom. Different factors may be in play in other jurisdictions such as the USA.
The article was itself a response to a comment by a well known property ‘expert’, to the effect that she and, by implication, other older people, regarded younger generations as hypocrites for complaining about house prices at the same time as spending, what seems to her, large amounts on entertainment. Manavis dubbed this ‘Boomer Mathmatics’. I contend that boomers’ snobbery may play a more important role in their attitude to the UK’s housing problem.
Boomer opinion is driven by more than overestimating the cost of the things millennials buy that were not available when we were young. It’s about priorities: Manavis asks “should we not want to live in a society where someone can enjoy low-cost pleasures, such as a cheap holiday, and have it become a barrier to owning a home?” A question that does not make sense unless she meant to say “ . . . and not have it become a barrier . . .”
Be that as maybe, the fact that those things are readily available and at a relatively low price, whereas housing is not, shows a false sense of priorities. Not just of millennials as individuals, but of the society in which they are forced to live.
I purchased my first home from my local council in 1965, using a loan funded by a government agency and covering 100% of the purchase price. It was newly built, on an estate that also included large numbers of homes for rent.
Manavis points out, correctly, that house price inflation in the intervening years is a multiple of wage inflation over the same period. I’d like to suggest some of the factors that I believe have contributed to this state of affairs.
Firstly, there were many fewer single parent families in the 1960s, and, consequently, fewer estranged fathers seeking single person accommodation.
Secondly, many more young people now attend university, fuelling demand for housing in uversity towns and cities.