Age of insecurity - RSA report - RSA

Age of insecurity


  • Economy
  • Health and wellbeing

Young people in 2022 face an endemic lack of security. Our research has shown that nearly half of young people today live precariously. Clearly, systemic individualism is not working.

Through a process of diary research, we followed young people’s lives over the course of a year. We heard from young people trying to overcome challenges of low pay, high costs and overall precarity in the face of a system which wasn’t designed to support independence or a transition to adulthood.

A lack of collective security, characterised by an underfunded social security net and a fractured social contract, means that young people are facing structural challenges as individuals first and foremost.

We call this atomisation:

pdf 7.9 MB

The breaking of societal bonds that should support young people, leaving them isolated and vulnerable. We believe atomisation has a fundamental relationship with economic insecurity.

This report presents our findings, frames the methodology behind our diary research and introduces the young people we met..

We also investigate the phenomenon of atomisation in more detail, using the words and stories of young people to explore two case study domains that loom large in their lives: housing and work.

For example, we heard how:

  • the cost of moving out and paying rent, forced houseshares and unattainable home ownership were driving young people’s atomisation and insecurity in their housing.
  • these dynamics played out in young people’s work, through low pay, insecure hours, poor work-life balance and a complex job market.
  • young people were responding by pushing themselves to spend more time, energy and money to get by as they were growing up, with very few having sufficient structural support behind them.

The report also explores the action needed and provide a high-level stakeholder map of key influencers with a stake in young people’s economic security.

Download the Age of insecurity report (PDF, 7.9 MB)

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