Covid and the climate crisis show why we need a new social contract between old and young | Minouche Shafik


The burden to pay for people in retirement is too great on those facing debt, job insecurity and an uncertain future

Covid-19 continues to bring many inter-generational tensions to the fore. Older people bear the brunt of the disease’s impact on health; younger people have to make economic and social sacrifices to protect them. But the pandemic is just one reason why the social contract between the generations is under pressure.

Within families, the social contract between the generations is easy to understand. Parents want to give their children the capabilities and means to have a good life; children want their parents to have a comfortable old age. But at a societal level, the social contract between the generations is more complex. The legacy we leave to future generations has many dimensions – the stock of human knowledge and culture, inventions, infrastructure and institutions, and the state of the natural world. We owe a great deal to previous generations and most would agree that we also owe something to future generations we will never meet, and that each generation should leave the next at least as well off, and preferably better off than they were.

Related: Millennials are struggling. Is it the fault of the baby boomers?

Related: Covid jobs crisis could have lasting impact on young people’s pensions

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