A Multigenerational Collapse: How Generation Z will Inherit Millenials’ Struggles

By: Danté Fosterdelmundo

Please note that this blog post represents the opinions of Danté Fosterdelmundo and not is representative of the official stance of the FCSS-FESC.

Image source: (https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/08/05/viral-photo-crowded-georgia-high-school-hallway-lacks-context-superintendent-says/)

Generation Z — our generation, alongside millennials, had a promising future with the rise of the information era, rapid advancements in medicine, and a strong world economy to start the 2000s.

However, what the future holds for both demographics is becoming increasingly worrying. In the present day, the COVID-19 pandemic is currently taking the world economy for a stir as unemployment reaches record highs. Mainly younger workers are taking the brunt of layoffs. On the other hand, education is currently in limbo for many students as they struggle with staggered schedules and online alternatives. Tighter job markets, rising housing, tuition, and living costs also present significant challenges for both high school and post-secondary graduates.

The Millennial Situation

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Millennials — those born between 1981 and 1996, have had their prospects firstly stunted by the Great Recession of 2008. The economic collapse saw youth employment in Canada rise from 9% in 2008 to a high of 15% in 2009. Young adults of today pursued post-secondary education at a much higher rate than their parents. Around 4 out of 10 millennials have a bachelor's degree or higher compared to only 3 out of 10 for Generation X — their parent’s generation. But at what cost?

Image source: (https://uwaterloo.ca/canadian-index-wellbeing/what-we-do/domains-and-indicators/average-annual-canadian-undergraduate-tuition-fees-2015)

High prices have often been the barrier to higher education, with tuition costs far outpacing inflation. This trend has only been worsening. Even during the coronavirus pandemic with financial instability rife amongst students in such an unprecedented collapse, many Canadian universities continue to hike their fees.

Millennial students were pressured to take student loans, leading to Canadian students and graduates collectively owing over $28 billion to the government at all levels. After being handed a diploma, college students have an average debt of $10,172, and doctoral students carry an average debt of $29,000.

Other factors such as mortgage debt, which millennials have significantly more compared to previous generations, also compounded to a wider range of financial outcomes amongst the generation. Income inequality has created a split financially for millennials, dividing those between who have ownership over their home, and those who either rely on rent or other means.

According to a study done by StatsCanada in 2016, millennials who owned a house in 2016 were worth $261,900 on average — compared to $18,400 for those who don’t. Where you lived in Canada had a major impact as well, as millennials who lived in Toronto or Vancouver (or rather, those who could afford to live in those expensive cities) were much better off than their peers.

The gap between the rich and poor widened compared to previous generations, with a significantly weaker middle-class population. This exacerbated inequality stunts economic growth, inhibiting social mobility, and any idea of equality of opportunity.

The Future for Generation Z

Image source: (https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/tips-trends-takeaways/guide-to-gen-z-debunking-the-myths-of-our-youngest-generation/)

Generation Z, at the present, is currently feeling the effects of the economic downturn from the coronavirus. Workers aged 15 to 24 in May 2020 were disproportionately laid off. Despite accounting for 12 percent of the labour force, they made up a quarter of the two million jobs lost in the month.

Future high school graduates will also have to adjust to the rise of the gig economy. We are seeing an influx of self-employed workers such as freelancers and on-demand workers hired by companies like Uber and Fiverr. These positions are notoriously precarious and are closely correlated to poor mental health. One-third of Canadian millennials are working in the short-term, and they tend to show a higher prevalence of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety compared to millennials with more secure employment.

Trends in the economy such as higher tuition fees, soaring housing markets, rampant income inequality alongside unstable employment will only damage Generation Z’s future careers.

A Looming Storm: Climate Change

Photo by Ella Ivanescu on Unsplash

Ultimately, the issue that will define our generation is climate change. Most “zoomers” agree with that statement. A study conducted by Amnesty International in 2019 found that 41% of Generation Z believe that climate change is the most important issue facing the world, with another 36% saying that pollution instead.

The effects of government inaction and neoliberal policy on climate change are already showing in the present day: record-setting heatwaves in Europe, loss of sea ice, and more lethal storms. Wildfires in Australia, Brazil, and the United States have all been more devastating due to warmer temperatures and drier conditions.

It is our generation who will have to deal with the brunt of climate change, as irreversible damage to our Earth will begin the collapse of many communities and the severe economic costs of storms. Millions of people, especially those living in Southeast Asia due to uninhabitable conditions from rising sea levels will be forced to migrate either domestically or to neighbouring countries.

By 2030, it is estimated that out of the 2 billion who live on drylands that are vulnerable to desertification, 50 million will become displaced due to scarcity of farmland. How will we ensure food security for everyone as the degradation of fertile soil limits our food production?

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Prior generations have failed us by not listening to experts to tackle climate change even with the warning signs in front of them. In 2017, the Trump administration announced its intent to withdraw from the landmark United Nations Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement was a long-overdue first step into global co-operation into limiting greenhouse-gas-emissions. There is no real reason for opting out, as the terms were not at all over-reaching. Each country chose its own goals to mitigate global warming, and no mechanism forces were set to force a country into doing anything.

The continued negligence from world governments proves their apathy towards our generation, actively encouraging the free-market capitalism that allows corporations to continue to push profit margins despite environmental damages. And it is us, the future generations, who will have to mitigate and deal with the worst of climate change.


Image source: (https://news.wttw.com/2020/04/30/high-school-students-share-lessons-learned-staying-home)

Millennials have had their odds against them from the very start. Unsustainable inequality, crippling debt, and rising costs are all factors that are mitigating their success in post-secondary.

Unfortunately for Generation Z, these trends only seem to be worsening. To enter the workforce with an education higher than a high-school diploma, we will have to pay for tuition costs in addition to housing costs. Maintaining steady employment will be less certain, as short-term and freelance work becomes more widespread for employers.

And despite being completely out of our control, we will have to deal with the consequences of inaction against climate change. Decades of overconsumption and use of harmful energy sources will cause a global cataclysm of weather-related destruction, and it will be our job to clean up the wreckage.

Our future, as it stands, looks bleak. We must see and fight for change as necessary, so that we may see humanity’s future on this planet succeed even if our prior generations leave us empty-handed.

Please note that this blog post represents the opinions of Danté Fosterdelmundo and not is representative of the official stance of the FCSS-FESC.


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Since 2012, the FCSS-FESC has strived to provide Canadian secondary school students in and CÉGEPs the tools they need to succeed in post-secondary life.