Intergenerational inequalities since baby-boom

Marie-Émilie CLERC, Olivier MONSO et Erwan POULIQUEN

Cohorts born until the late 1940s benefited from a clear generational progress: from one generation to the next, the conditions for entering the labour market were more favourable, living standards increased regularly, access to education and homeownership was more common. These progresses strongly slowed down and even stopped, for generations born in the 1950s and 1960s. Early in their life course, the latter had to face the two oil shocks and the bad economic context that followed. The most recent generations are experiencing a mixed picture. Several years of good economic performance at the turn of the 2000s helped to increase again their standard of living in comparison to previous generations at the same age. Then, they benefited from low interest rates that facilitated again access to the property, despite rising property prices. However, this improvement appears to be very dependent on the macroeconomic environment, which can easily turn around. Inequalities between generations go together with inequalities within generations. In particular, access to employment is closely linked to educational level. Graduate people are more protected from unemployment and get a stable job more easily, but such an improvement is at the cost of a downgrading as regards wages and employment position. Non-graduates, meanwhile, are more dependent on economic conditions, not only at the end of their studies but also during the beginning of their careers. Finally, the fragility of this generational progress, and the increased importance of intergenerational transfers of wealth, could possibly lead to a widening of the gap between social classes or social origins. For instance, since the beginning of the 2000s, the access of younger generations to property has been improving again but the gap in property rates between social categories has been increasing.

Documents de travail N° g2011/11
No g2011/11
Paru le : 01/07/2011