Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Young people (under 17) are more likely to live in poverty, in single parent or step families and with few educational resources available to them.

The resident population of the UK is just under 61 million – young adults aged 16-24, account for 12% of that number (7.4 million).

The definition of young people or young adults in the UK today is very different from that of 40, 30, or even 20 years ago. The path to adulthood has altered, and compared with previous generations we now have a situation where young adults are living for longer in the family home, being encouraged to remain for longer periods in education, are less financially independent, and are delaying marriage in favour of the more modern arrangement of living together.

At the end of 2011, just under 155,000 (8.1%) of 16 to 18 year olds were NEET (not in education, employment or training). Although rates vary considerably with age: 2.8% 16-year-olds, 6.7% of 17-year olds and 14.5% of 18 year olds. For most young people, being NEET is a temporary outcome as they move between different education and training options.

These statistics can be affected by young people living at home. In 2011, nearly 3.0 million adults aged between 20 and 34 were living with a parent or parents, the greatest proportion of this group are aged 20-24.

There has also been a significant fall in first marriages amongst young adults. Over the last 40 years, many young adults choose to delay marriage until their 30s. In 1961, for example, the mean age to marry, in England and Wales, was 25 for young men and 23 for young women. In 2009, however, the average had increased substantially to 32 years-old for men and 30 for women.

The UK has the highest rate of under 17 year olds living in households with income less than 50% the national median in Western Europe.  Of all the Organisation for Ecconomic Co-operation and Development (OECD) group countries surveyed by the United Nations for their 2011 report on child wellbeing the UK came bottom, below Hungary, Poland, the US and virtually every European or Western Nation. Read the UN Report Summary.

The report goes on to highlight that young people (under 17) are more likely to live in poverty, in single parent or step families and with few educational resources available to them.  Of all the nations surveyed young people in the UK are the most likely to have been drunk and be sexually active and with their overall ‘risky behaviour’ ranking the highest.

There are a broad range of factors which are correlated with poverty that impact on the lives of young people.  They are academic underachievement, drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment, homelessness, crime and pregnancy and parenthood.   They all increase the chances of the social exclusion of young people. (Wilkinson 1994/SEU 1999).