The rise of gerontocracy? Addressing the intergenerational democratic deficit

My report for the Intergenerational Foundation on the impact of population ageing on the UK electorate, and the institutional changes needed to mitigate it.
The ageing of the electorate means that there is emerging an intergenerational democratic deficit whereby young cohorts are marginalised within the democratic process – this obviously has negative implications for young people, but also the legitimacy of representative democracy more generally. While it may be premature or sensationalist to proclaim the rise of a ‘gerontocracy’, it is clear that today’s young people have become relatively disenfranchised, both by the ageing of the electorate and wider features of the democratic process that appear to favour older cohorts. Unless the political marginalisation of young people abates, we are in danger of creating
‘generation D’, a succession of disenfranchised cohorts with little say in how their society is governed. Today’s young people (‘generation Y’ or ‘the jilted generation’) are suffering a democratic deficit, but we can expect this trend to accelerate in coming decades.
The paper assesses the extent of the democratic deficit experienced by younger cohorts by calculating the political power of voters at different life-stages, now and in the future. However, it will also examine the democratic process to detail the means by which young people are relatively excluded from mainstream politics more generally, arguing that even if cohort sizes were equal, a democratic deficit would result from the inability of the UK political system to mobilise and genuinely respond to young people’s perspectives.

Click here to access the full report.

Image: Duncan Hull

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