Gen X Brits ‘feeling the squeeze’ and delaying legacy pledges, charities warned

09 Jan 2024 News

Adobe, Prostock-studio

Generation X charitable donors in the UK are less likely to have made a will than baby boomers when they were the same age, according to a new study.

Researchers found that those born between 1965 and 1980 were “feeling the squeeze more than their boomer counterparts and are more pessimistic about economic prospects”.

“With many having dependent children at home, gen X are more likely to be thinking carefully about how they spend their money,” Legacy Futures’ research found.

“Their main aim was to try to hold on to what they had and to save planning for the future for when things feel more certain.”

The research found that gen X adults aged 50-54 appeared to be similarly wealthy to the baby boomer generation (born 1945-1964) when they were the same age, although with more money in pensions and less property.

It found greater polarisation of wealth among gen X adults, with the top quarter of households owning 70% of wealth, compared to 65% for boomers.

“Whilst not good for wider society, this is positive for legacies, as it shows gen X holds significant wealth and increased wealth increases the chance of a charitable gift left in a will,” the research says.

However, the research warned that gen X adults were less likely to have made a will than boomers were at the same age.

Annual deaths are set to rise by almost a third to reach 825,000 in 2050, with gen X adults expected to account for 40% of those, according to the research.

Respondents from both generations said they had delayed making a will, “reporting that things seemed too uncertain at the moment to make commitments for the future”.  

Demographic changes

Researchers found that 18% of gen X women did not have children, compared to 14% of boomer women aged 65-75, which could mean they are more likely to consider leaving money to charity.

A lower percentage of gen X adults are religious, with 37% saying they had no religious beliefs compared to 22% of boomers aged 65-75.

Almost one in five gen X adults is from a Black, Asian, mixed or other ethnic group, according to the 2021 census data, compared to one-twelfth of 65-75-year-olds.

“While economic uncertainty seems to be delaying legacy decision making, the good news is that donors don’t seem to be removing charities from their wills all together,” said Ashley Rowthorn, chief executive of Legacy Futures.

“There is still a strong desire to give to causes that matter in life, as well as to family and friends, and charities need to use this moment of pause to deepen and strengthen relationships through good stewardship. 

“As time moves on, charities also need to understand the changing generations and make sure they are engaging them on their terms.”

Legacy Foresight’s research used data from a consortium of 34 of the UK’s largest charities including Oxfam, Sue Ryder and RNLI, alongside a nationally representative survey of 2,300 adults carried out by consultancy Yonder in June 2023.

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