This article originally appeared in the Financial Post. Below is an excerpt from the article.
By Philip Cross, September 29, 2023
Statistics Canada last week released a sobering but hardly surprising study of the current state of young people in Canada. Many cannot find affordable housing, forcing 43 per cent of 20 to 29-year-olds to live with their parent(s). Nearly 40 per cent believe they can’t afford to have a child over the next three years. Others are having trouble entering the labour market, a problem shared by most youth cohorts but which seems particularly challenging today because of technology. More broadly, Statcan notes young people’s mental health has been declining steadily since 2003, with feelings of loneliness rising and attachment to community declining.
The Statcan survey misleadingly frames young people as victims of circumstances beyond their control. Some problems certainly can be blamed on the pandemic and on bone-headed government policies that have created a housing affordability crisis in many parts of Canada. But blaming external circumstances ignores how every generation confronts daunting challenges. The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919 was the direct opposite of our own pandemic: it was particularly deadly for young people. The so-called Greatest Generation had to deal with both an epic economic depression and then the Second World War. Even the coddled boomers had to deal with the Cold War, the possibility of nuclear annihilation, and at least two severe recessions (starting in 1981 and 1990) brought on by double-digit interest rates.
Each generation needs the tools to deal with the trials and tribulations life inevitably throws at everyone. Researchers have warned for years that our education system and how parents raise children have not adequately prepared today’s young adults. In his 2019 book The Second Mountain, New York Times columnist David Brooks observed how young people today are moving “from the most structured and supervised childhood in human history … into the least structured young adulthood in human history.”