Parents, youth agree: the economic road ahead is rocky

Survey highlights millennials’ fears and boomers’ worries about precarious work

OTTAWA—In an innovative survey of both millennials and boomer parents, a poll asked two generations their thoughts about their economic future and the policies affecting it. Both young people in the workforce and their parents expressed deep unease about a future of precarious, low-benefit work. 

The poll, conducted by Abacus Data for the Broadbent Institute, shows only a minority in both groups believe the economic opportunities of young people will be better than the boomer generation. And a majority of millennials and boomers don’t trust corporations to create good jobs in Canada, even as governments enact policies businesses want.

“Without a change in direction, Canada won’t see one generation leaving things better for the next,” said Rick Smith, Executive Director of the Broadbent Institute. “Young people think income inequality will grow in their lifetime, while their parents worry about how the social programs they’ll need in retirement will be paid for.”

The poll’s key findings:

  • There are four times as many millennials who think they will face contract work than what baby boomers report they faced in their life.
  • Boomers are more likely to think their children will slip in economic class than are millennials when asked about their future economic status; and about half (49%) of boomers believe economic opportunities are worse for their children than when they were their children's age.
  • Only a small minority of millennials (21%) and boomers (15%) believe corporations will work harder to make sure good jobs are created in Canada; large majorities in both groups believe corporations will concentrate more on their profits, even if good jobs aren’t created.
  • Millennials are three times as likely to think income inequality will grow than narrow in their lifetime. 
  • A majority of boomers fear their children’s generation won’t be able to pay for social programs they will need in retirement.

"These findings show people are skeptical that corporations will create good jobs in Canada. They believe most people will be worse off if the government continues to withdraw and turns to individuals to make up the difference,” said Smith. “The survey is a wake-up call about the need for a new deal for today’s youth.”

The Abacus Data survey surveyed 983 Canadians aged 20-30 in the job market — millennials — and 1,064 people aged 50-65 — baby boomers — with at least one child aged 20 or older. The online survey was completed from February 6-10, 2014.

The full report is available at

From March 28-30 in Ottawa, the Broadbent Institute will hold its first annual Progress Summit  a high-profile event that will bring together an exciting group of policy experts from across Canada and around the world. The issue of youth unemployment will be top of the agenda for this event. Learn more at


For more information, please contact:

Mike Fancie, Broadbent Institute
613-866-3606 or mfancie [at ] broadbentinstitute [dot] ca