Data Debates: What does data really tell us about the generational divide?
Many of our recent COVID-19 discussions and experiences have had a generational element and impact, from the devastating impact of pandemic on the older generation, especially in care homes, to university students self-isolating in their halls of residence and undergoing a mass testing before returning to their families for Christmas. The pandemic seems to have highlighted pre-existing narratives about intergenerational differences – on one side, baby boomers who, we are told, benefited from the post-war economic boom, in the process getting richer and more conservative politically, and, on the other side, millennials, often described as technology savvy and individualistic, political ‘snowflakes’, experiencing an adulthood of precarious employment and housing.
While the media caricatures of different generations are often extreme, researchers and scientists have a lot to say about intergenerational dynamic in all areas of life, from the attitudes to climate change, to the changes in social mobility, and the changing employment and economic prospects.
The British Library and Alan Turing Institute latest Data Debate will explore different aspects of intergenerational differences and what data and research tell us about these differences and their implications for our future.
On this occasion, our panel will include:
Dr Jennie Bristow is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Canterbury Christ Church University, an Associate of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, and a writer and commentator on the ‘generation wars’. Her recent books include: The Corona Generation: Coming of age in a crisis (with Emma Gilland, Zero Books 2020); Generational Encounters with Higher Education: The Academic–Student Relationship and the University Experience (with Sarah Cant and Anwesa Chatterjee, Bristol University Press 2020); Stop Mugging Grandma: The ‘generation wars’ and why Boomer blaming won’t solve anything (Yale University Press 2019); and The Sociology of Generations: New directions and challenges (Palgrave Macmillan 2016).
Mr Angus Hanton is a Co-founder of the Intergenerational Foundation, a vehemently independent and non-party-political think tank that focuses on intergenerational fairness in the UK. A self-confessed baby boomer and economist, Hanton believes that successive governments have unwittingly overseen the transfer of assets, benefits and resources to older generations, whilst passing increasingly unsustainable liabilities to younger and future people.
Dr Florian Hertel studies the causes and effects of social inequality in post-industrial societies. Specifically, he is interested in understanding what drives social mobility trends and international variation in intergenerational mobility. He currently works with the Department of Socioeconomics at the University of Hamburg and was visiting Professor of Sociology at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Florian published his work in the American Sociological Review, Social Forces and Research in Stratification and Social Mobility. Last summer, his recent work on social mobility and inequality was awarded the RC28’s Significant Scholarship Award.
Professor Ganna Pogrebna is a decision theorist, behavioural scientist and a Turing Fellow. Before joining The Alan Turing Institute, she worked at the University of Innsbruck (Austria), the University of Bonn (Germany), Humboldt- Universität zu Berlin (Germany), University of Sheffield (UK), and Columbia University in New York (USA). She is currently a Professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Birmingham and a Research Fellow at Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at the University of Warwick.
Dr Tracey Skillington is Director of the BA (Sociology) in the Department of Sociology & Criminology, University College Cork. She is the author of two monographs on global climate change, Climate Justice and Human Rights (2017, Palgrave) and Climate Change and Intergenerational Justice (2019, Routledge), exploring the justice dimensions of largescale ecological destruction. She is currently a partner in an EU Horizon funded project on Arctic justice and sustainable development (JUSTNORTH, 2020-23). On the issue of data, her research points to the invaluable contribution of data to understanding the nature and extent of the ecological risks we face.
Mr David Sturrock is a Senior Research Economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies. His recent work has looked at the savings and wealth holdings of different generations and the impact of inheritances on inequality. David is currently undertaking a multi-year project investigating the impact of rising house prices on inequalities across and within generations and the role of wealth transfers in social mobility. Previously, David was a policy advisor and economist at HM Treasury, working on fiscal policy, spending strategy and the economics of Scottish independence.
The Rt Hon Lord David Willetts FRS is the President of the Resolution Foundation and chaired their Intergenerational Commission. He served as the Member of Parliament for Havant (1992-2015), as Minister for Universities and Science (2010-2014) and previously worked at HM Treasury and the No.10 Policy Unit. Last year he published a second edition of his book The Pinch How the Baby Boomers took their children’\s future - and why they should give it back. He is a member of the Board of UKRI.
The event will be chaired by writer and broadcaster Timandra Harkness. Timandra presents BBC Radio 4 series, FutureProofing and has presented the documentaries, Data, Data Everywhere, Personality Politics & The Singularity.
The online event takes place on 10 December 2020 at 5.30pm. Bookings for this event are now open.