Skip to main content

Attitudes of different generations to the welfare system

Why has support for the welfare system fallen dramatically over the last two decades – and how have generational attitudes changed?

Written by:
Duncan O'Leary et al.
Date published:

People have become less likely to support greater spending on welfare, and more likely to believe that the system produces the wrong results. However, the system has not lost all support. People remain positive about support that goes to certain groups, particularly pensioners and disabled people, but the shift in public attitudes remains dramatic. This study looks at changes in attitudes by generation, based on the following four groups:

  • the Pre-war generation – anyone born before 1945;
  • the Baby boomers, born between 1945 and 1965;
  • Generation X, born between 1966 and 1979;
  • Generation Y, born between 1980 and 2000.

This is a summary of the Findings from a project by Demos and Ipsos MORI, funded by JRF. The full report is available at