Increase in poverty among young adults over last decade more than double that of other age groups

  • Feb 26, 2015

Research published today by the New Policy Institute (NPI) finds that 29% of young adults (aged 19-25) in the UK are in poverty. This is six percentage points higher than a decade earlier – the biggest increase of any age group.

The main reason for this increase was rising worklessness:
  • Around two thirds of the increase was on account of the fall in employment amongst young adults: in the last 10 years the proportion of young adults in households where everyone worked fell by 11 percentage points to 44%, with increases in the share of young adults in workless households (3 percentage points) and households where only some members worked (8 percentage points).
But young adult poverty also increased because of a rise in poverty among working households, and this is linked to housing tenure.
  • In the last decade, the poverty rate among working households in private rent increased from 21% to 27%, while in other tenures it hardly changed. A likely reason for this is that the earnings of working renters did not rise in line with housing costs resulting in falling disposable incomes.
  • This has had an adverse impact on young adult poverty as a high and growing proportion of young adults now live in private rented accommodation: since 2002/03, the proportion of young adults in private rented accommodation increased by 10 percentage points to 37%.
Commenting on the findings, report author Hannah Aldridge said:
“The last decade was the perfect storm for young adult poverty.  Unemployment amongst young adults soared and even now it is still three times higher than for other adults. For those in work, a high and growing proportion live in the private rented sector where housing costs are higher. To reverse the rise in young adult poverty there needs to be an increase in young adult employment and more affordable tenancies.”