A ‘sandwich generation’ of individuals between the ages of 35 and 50 are shouldering the financial burden of supporting both older and younger individuals who are not working, according to Andy Haldane, the former chief economist of the Bank of England. Haldane attributes this situation to a rise in economic inactivity, particularly due to long-term illnesses. He emphasizes that the middle-aged population is facing increased tax responsibilities and caregiving duties as a result. The issue of economic inactivity has become even more pronounced during the pandemic, with the UK experiencing a lower employment rate compared to pre-Covid levels. Currently, over 8.8 million people are classified as economically inactive, representing more than a fifth of the working-age population. The number of people facing long-term sickness has risen significantly, reaching 2.6 million in the three-month period ending in July. While early in the pandemic, economic inactivity was primarily seen in the 16-24 age group, it has recently affected individuals aged 50 to 64. Reasons for economic inactivity can include early retirement or discouragement from seeking work due to a perceived lack of opportunities. Additionally, Haldane expresses concern for young people who are unable to work due to mental health issues, as these problems can persist throughout their lives. Haldane, known for his insightful economic analyses, also recently criticized the Bank of England for inflationary mistakes resulting from a prolonged quantitative easing program.
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